Free Minds & Free Markets


Mostly law professors, blogging on whatever we please since 2002 · Hosted by The Washington Post, 2014-2017 · Hosted by Reason 2017 · Sometimes contrarian · Often libertarian · Always independent

The scandularity is near!

Episode 205 of the Cyberlaw Podcast

Today's news roundup begins with Maury Shenk and Brian Egan offering their views about the Supreme Court oral argument in the Microsoft Ireland case. We highlight some of the questions that may tip the Justices' hand.

Brian and I dig into the Dems' reply memo on the Carter Page FISA application. I'm mostly unshocked by the outcome of the dueling memos, though I find one sentence of the application utterly implausible. I also foresee a possible merging of the Clinton-Obama Trump-smearing scandal with the Trump-Russia collusion scandal – call it the scandularity!

In other Russia news, the Justice Department is standing up a task force on all things cyber. Jim Lewis and I disagree about whether Russian hacking of the electoral infrastructure is likely to be a serious problem in 2018. We agree that the Twitter bot war on the American body politic will continue, since it seems to be a pretty cheap hobby for Putin's favorite supplier of catered meals. Indeed, he seems to have gotten into the business as a way of squelching online protests that his school lunches were lousy. I suggest that Michelle Obama probably wishes she'd heard about that tactic sooner.

Google has announced an Advanced Protection program for people who think they may be high value targets for government cyberespionage. In a Cyberlaw Podcast first, I offer a product review. Short version: I'm still using it, despite some flaws in what looks like a beta program, but as a supply chain buff, I can't help wondering who the hell Feitian Technologies is and what ties they have to the Chinese government.

March 1 is D-Day for Apple moving the crypto keys for Chinese IPhones' iCloud data to China.

And Keeper continues to pursue its misguided STFU libel suit against Ars Technica. Ars Technica's answering brief is here. While security researchers have been wasting their time on politically correct whining about the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, libel suits are turning into far more effective tools for chilling security research.

Finally, for fans of the podcast in the Washington area, Steptoe is thinking of hiring a part-time intern to handle much of the organizational work associated with the podcast. If you're interested, keep an eye on , which is where we'll post the position if this idea bears fruit.

As always The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to or leave a message at +1 202 862 5785.

Download the 205th Episode (mp3).

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  • Michael Cook||

    The FBI sought a FISA warrant on Carter Page based on speculation of his financial dealings and were denied. They threw in the dossier, reapplied, and were successful. Now the Dems say the dossier was not the difference maker. And the Uranium One deal sailed through the permit process purely on its merits and its clear benefits to the USA.

    Somebody in the Obama administration liked the FISA warrant results with Carter Page in tarring Flynn and Trump so much they went ahead and did it 299 more times before President-elect and his team actually took office. Think that even one of those 300 FISA warrants was of a Democrat who had contacts with Russians, Ukrainians, or entities that might be linked suspicious foreigners?

    Joe Biden's surviving son is a failed lawyer and coincidentally on the board of directors of a Ukrainian energy company. The Clintons couldn't be more popular with oligarchs wanting to donate to their charity or pay Bill a whopping big speaking fee.

    Yes, a scandularity looms.

  • Michael Cook||

    This is just an estimate, but adjusted for inflation and all that it looks like Putin authorized 5X the spending to get the Uranium One deal approved as he did on "meddling" in the 2016 American election. Furthermore, the money Putin spent on the P/R Internet electioneering effort appears to have been payroll spent mostly in and around St. Petersburg on the Baltic.

    The earlier and larger Uranium One lobbying expenditure was money actually passed around in the USA. This was all investigated by Andrew McCabe while Mueller was head of the FBI, apparently in the same selectively casual fashion that Comey et al "investigated" Hillary's email illegalities.

  • Sarcastr0||

    The FBI brought a FISA request and were denied? That's the real headline!

    I wouldn't play guilt-by-Ukrainian-association of you want to be an ally of Trump...

    And what was the end-game of your Uranium One conspiracy between the six agencies required to sign off on CFIUS requests? Was Russia going to run out of Uranium? Are we going to now? Canada?

  • Michael Cook||

    Obama got to pat himself on the back for buying yet another glorious treaty that sounded OK to liberal ears but was not in our national interest. We remain a net importer of uranium. Our long term contract with Canada went to Russian interests. Republicans in Utah and Texas liked the U-1 deal because Utah produces u and the price went up and Texas produces oil, which is the real alternative energy when nuclear energy is priced out of our national energy grid.

    And that is the long-term rub. We get over-priced kilowatts during out colder winters. We become another Australia, bristling with huge Siemens wind turbines that grind away in a coal rich land, making down under progressively poorer and a harder place for working class Aussies to survive.

    Meanwhile, in Korea today it is unseasonably old as the athletes go home and also deep snow in Rome, where a lot of fashionable eco-nincompoops live. Fake news from Antarctica--the sun shines on a windless day and for an hour the surface temp goes above freezing. Happens every year since man has been there.

  • Michael Cook||

    ou(r) (c)old

  • Sarcastr0||

    You are second-guessing a process that interrogated the effect on our national interest and found the burden insufficient to interfere with the free market.

    Marginal increases in energy prices are not a good enough reason. And Australia may have problems, but you are the first I've heard citing windmills as one of them.

    Your 'IF GLOBAL WARMING WHY COLD' is really dumb.

  • Greg F||

    And Australia may have problems, but you are the first I've heard citing windmills as one of them.

    It is actually South Australia which doesn't have enough capacity when the wind doesn't blow. They have one of the highest electricity rates in the world. If you want high prices go renewable.

  • jph12||

    "And Australia may have problems, but you are the first I've heard citing windmills as one of them."

    I'm curious how much research Sarcastr0 did before dismissing Michael Cook's comments about Australia. It couldn't be very much, because a single google search brings up a wide variety of articles, from a wide variety of sources, discussing that very issue (concentrated, as Greg F notes, in South Australia) including, to be fair, some claiming the issue is overblown.

    I'd be a little embarrassed myself.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Yeah, I'm not going to go down a rabbit-hole about who has the better talking points regarding Australia's use of renewable energy on a thread about Trump's scandals.

    Feel free to ding me for not being sufficiently zealous in my off-topic pedantry (as seems quite common for you) but I'm pretty comfortable waiting for when that's an actual topic to debate it.

  • jph12||

    It's not about who has the better talking points--you denied it was even an issue. That's what I'm dinging you for. You hadn't heard of an issue so you assumed it wasn't real.

    And you are always comfortable with everything you do. It's one of the things that makes you such a special poster. Not the good kind of special, but still special. Your whole act is really dumb.

  • damikesc||

    The FBI brought a FISA request and were denied? That's the real headline!

    Technically it was twice it got denied.

  • Voize of Reazon||

    There does seem to be rather an excess of Uranium One hoopla. Life would be simpler if CFIUS had objected, U1 would have just divested their rather unimportant US extraction rights and the deal would have completed without US scrutiny. Rosatom's priority was to get control of U1's far more significant holdings in Kazakhstan,

  • MonitorsMost||

    What's the source for the assertion that a warrant application was originally denied? I have not seen that prior to now.

  • santamonica811||

    Fortunately for President Trump, there will always be plenty of people willing to whore any intellectual integrity, so his political safety is, I think, ensured.

  • Michael Cook||

    If we had, of course, a mainstream media that were not a collection of blind and clueless fools following each other nose to tail through the meaningless green word smog that passes for high science in this age of nincompoopery, you would understand that that 98% of windmills are in locations that render them efficient only at transforming taxpayer dollars into substantial subsidies for favored industrial sectors.

    All that is a fine political calculation, of course, which you would also know about if we had real journalists with actual intelligence and some modest modicum of curiosity wandering the hills and plains of our democracies.

    GregF has it right. The wind does not blow steadily enough in Australia or anywhere else. It is all a fancy hoax. For money. Politicians involved up to their nasty noses.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Batteries: they are a thing.

    You can argue bad policy, but quit your hoax talk.

  • Greg F||

    Batteries: they are a thing.

    So is me flying a helicopter 2 miles to work everyday.

  • TangoDelta||

    Interesting, Google has brought out a way for high value targets to self identify ensuring that the government will do it's best to spy on them. Maybe we should all sign up and send emails to someone deceased to pique their interest.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    I trust more governments than I do google.

  • croaker||

    Not a high bar.

  • Michael Cook||

    Doveryi, no poveryi, Reagan said. Good things to put money on: (1) the current level of seas rising is entirely natural and will total 1.5 meters by 2300. Deal with it, Venice and other low places. (2) Christopher Steele is brilliantly indictable under all the same prongs as the Russians. Moreover, he is extradictable. (3) The FBI Inspector General will now be looking at all 300 of the approved FISA warrant requests, which were done in the authority at least of U.N. American delegate.Samantha Powers. Little questions may at last be answered like who were the other 299 unmasked, and did the Washing Post get the transcripts of all the wiretap victims? (4) Why weren't the Podestas and other Hillary associates ever suspected of being unlicensed lobbyists for foreign interests, especially during the giddy period when they were 100% sure their candidate was going to win, warts and all?

    (5) Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Democrat herd has broken through the fence and stampedes further, further, further leftward. Sen. Diane Feinstein chucked in the trash bin of history. Pundits now seriously suggests the Dem 2020 candidate will have to be Michelle Obama or else a brown illegal alien clone of Hugo Chavez who actually has the dried blood of someone in the Trump family on his or her hands!

  • Michael Cook||

    Breaking News on the NRA/Gun Control front this morning. Rush L. is saying that the actual reason that the Florida County shooter was able to pass background checks and buy an "assault rifle" at Rick's Sporting Goods is that his criminal history was massively sanitized by the Obama/Holder program to reduce the alleged disparity in incarcerated populations of minority identities, the PROMISE initiative,

    The most uncharitable version of this narrative would suggest that the elected Democrat Broward County Sheriff was deeply committed to feeding at the trough that the PROMISE program provided those law enforcement agencies and school districts that went along with the program of disguising and hiding the real world threat level of selected individuals.

    If true, this information drastically changes the political debate, which depends, at bottom, that there will be some type of dependable, equitable rule of law and sustainable understandings as to what is fair. Now it seems the government will come and seize my semi-autos from my secure gun safe because it (the government) totally and deliberately neglected as a matter of calculated partisan policy to make the tiniest, slightest effort to enforce common-sense laws on semi-autos.

  • Michael Cook||

    (D)ick's Sporting Goods

  • santamonica811||

    Oh thank God. I was worried that, somehow, the thread would end without some nutjob blaming Obama for the shooting. Because . . . Obama!!!!

  • Michael Cook||

    I think a stronger case can be made than that. Sheriff Israel's department was not developing any of Rikardo Cruz's numerous police contacts and incidents into a felony charge for a reason. Since the Broward Co. Sheriff's Dept. has itself been charged with 66 crimes in relation to Cruz matters so far, the truth will probably emerge in court.

    Money and power being what they are in the world, why wouldn't the PROMISE program and the cheap racist politics of the Obama era be the stellar explanation of this local phenomenon?

  • Michael Cook||

    And so sez Sen. Rubio today--the PROMISE rules must be modified so as not to give cover to school shooters and other killers. Good luck with that!

    Once upon a time I was a Drug and Alcohol counselor on a Native American reservation and from there I drifted into criminal corrections, from whence I retired. I met hundreds of angry young men like Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz. Liberal or progressive principles of "punishment" or correction, or therapy, made absolutely no impression on them.

    Nikolas Cruz kept continually escalating his behaviors as a desperate cry for help. He was searching for some limit he could reach at which society would acknowledge the importance he felt was his due. The first couple of times he went stupid he should have been felonized and slapped down hard. Then maybe, maybe, his life could have been turned around.

    Some of the best people I know, the ones I trust most, are former felons and recovered addicts.

  • Krayt||

    He rightly mocks those who bemoan the US government as being as bad as China or Russia in crypto abuse. However this gets at the wrong thing.

    It's fundamental to US government constitutional design to deny government powers those in power can abuse to maintain their power. The 4th Amendment is all about thwarting the king in efforts to muck about in the papers of opponents to tag them with something arrest them if they get uppity.

    It isn't about believing your government bad. It is about denying those powers to begin with as a prophylactic. Anyone thinking this archaic need only view Russia, China, Venezuela, and so on, and listen to the prognostications of 1984, said panopticons now being "executed by steam", in the words of Babbage.


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