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White House eliminates top cybersecurity job, because it’s not like we have to worry about hacking

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White House eliminates top cybersecurity job, because it’s not like we have to worry about hacking

 

Gage Skidmore / Flickr John Bolton...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Less than two years after Russia penetrated state election systems, the White House has eliminated the cybersecurity coordinator position on the National Security Council.

A memorandum circulated by an aide to the new national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said the post was no longer considered necessary because lower-level officials had already made cybersecurity issues a “core function” of the president’s national security team.

Can someone please ask John Bolton if he’s eliminating all the other top-level jobs overseeing things that are also done by lower-level officials? Including the things he thinks are important, like, uh, bombing countries? I didn’t think so. Bolton appears to think he’s still living in the George W. Bush years, the last time he was in government:

Mr. Bolton has virtually no cyber-related experience. When he was last in government, as ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, cybersecurity was not formally considered a national threat. It is now listed as the No. 1 threat in the annual assessment that the director of national intelligence sends to Congress.

Mr. Bolton has talked about “streamlining” the N.S.C., and so far that appears to have involved reducing many of the new positions created over the past decade.

It’s awfully convenient for Donald Trump to have a national security adviser who isn’t worried about Russian hacking efforts, isn’t it?


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The media has made Rudy Giuliani the voice of the Mueller investigation, to the benefit of Trump

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The media has made Rudy Giuliani the voice of the Mueller investigation, to the benefit of Trump

 

Daily Brian / Flickr Giuliani dials back statements on Trump...
Daily Brian / Flickr

For over a year now, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has played his cards close to the chest. While Donald Trump’s White House may leak more regularly than an aging colander, Mueller has kept a tight ship. Those few occasions when anything from the special counsel’s office has slipped into public view, have mostly been when those on the other end of indictments—particularly Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort—have forced Mueller to at least tip a card toward a federal judge. What’s been demonstrated by the resulting court filings is mostly just how strong and detailed Mueller’s case against the people he has so far indicted actually is, along with proof that the DOJ authorized the special counsel to dip into actions like Manafort’s role in disrupting the government of Ukraine.

But if Mueller has sailed through months with his crew demonstrating the most-zipped-lips in the whole of D. C., that time has come to an end. Because, as Politico notes, for weeks now, America has had the keen insight of someone who is venturing into the Mueller investigation then coming back to tell the tale: Intrepid explorer Rudy Giuliani. Keen observers of Giuliani’s frequently gibberish-rich television appearances have been able to discern such critical facts as:

The only problem with all of this is that there’s just one thing that Robert Mueller has actually said:

As is its custom, Mueller’s office declined to comment on Giuliani’s statements.

And that’s the issue: Robert Mueller has not commented on Giuliani’s statements. He hasn’t commented on anyone’s statements. He’s not going to. Which demonstrates admirable consistency and a firm, apolitical approach to the job. Except that the one thing Giuliani actually knows about Robert Mueller is that he’s not going to comment. Which is letting Giuliani pretend to speak for him.

In an interview Monday, Giuliani said Mueller hasn’t objected to any of his statements. “I am relaying things accurately,” he said.

Robert Mueller’s silence concerning Giuliani’s statements gives absolutely no weight to Giuliani’s claims to be an accurate reporter. Giuliani could be going on national television to report that Mueller believes that Trump has psychic powers, the campaign collaborated with grey aliens, and that Trump’s dad bought the gun that Ted Cruz’s dad used to shoot JFK.

And Mueller would make exactly the same comments. Which is none.

It’s really quite a good trick. Giuliani—who has been on television demonstrably lying about every aspect of the case as it relates to Cohen and Trump—is being accepted as the Oracle of Mueller simply because the special counsel has held to his principles of staying quiet. And it doesn’t matter if Giuliani is right, wrong, or ridiculous. Because the media is so anxious to have any insight into the black box of the investigation, that they treat his every word as golden.

“There’s nothing that beats first-hand knowledge and Rudy claims to have first-hand knowledge,” said Matthew Miller, a former Obama Justice Department spokesman and frequent MSNBC contributor. “He’s an actor in this drama and the rest of us are commentators.”

Really? Are we sure about that? It’s not even clear that Robert Mueller would comment even if Giuliani was just going into the back room to puff on a Arturo Fuente Opus, then reappearing to tell us about his wonderful adventures on the other side of the wardrobe when he hadn’t met with Mueller’s team at all.

Mueller’s silences may be frustrating. But that shouldn’t be an invitation for Rudy Giuliani to fill them by blowing smoke.


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Trump opens himself up to hacking because using a secure phone is ‘too inconvenient’

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Trump opens himself up to hacking because using a secure phone is ‘too inconvenient’

 

Matt Johnson / Flickr Donald Trump...
Matt Johnson / Flickr

Donald Trump spends his time gabbing on the phone to his rich friends and rage-tweeting, and while he does those things, he may also be doing a third thing: exposing himself to surveillance and compromised information. That’s because Trump refuses to give up his convenience for greater security. He has two phones, Politico reports: one that makes calls and one to tweet and read news on.

While aides have urged the president to swap out the Twitter phone on a monthly basis, Trump has resisted their entreaties, telling them it was “too inconvenient,” the same administration official said.

The president has gone as long as five months without having the phone checked by security experts. It is unclear how often Trump’s call-capable phones, which are essentially used as burner phones, are swapped out.

Even better, Trump’s call-capable phone has a camera and microphone, so if anyone managed to hack into it, it would be an extra-special source of information on Trump’s movements and what was going on around him. But an anonymous White House official insists that the camera and microphone are no problem, because “Due to inherent capabilities and advancement in technologies, these devices are more secure than any Obama-era devices.” Mind you, “Obama-era” doesn’t just mean 2009, it means 2016. So … Trump entered office and within months, a phone with a camera and microphone was suddenly more secure than a phone without those features had been months earlier?

It’s almost too easy to contrast this with Trump campaigning on the idea that Hillary Clinton’s email security practices disqualified her from being president and in fact probably meant she should be jailed, and yet how can you not draw that contrast? Trump is intentionally disregarding security advice because it’s “too inconvenient” to have staff briefly take his Twitter phone away and swap it out once a month.

But since none of his supporters actually care about the disconnect between his campaign words and his actions in office any more than Trump cares about being truthful or consistent, there won’t be any political consequences until hacked information is used against him by a foreign government. Which he’ll blame on the FBI and Democrats, anyway.


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Trump Defies Cell Phone Security Protocol, Placing Ability To Tweet Above National Security

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Trump Defies Cell Phone Security Protocol, Placing Ability To Tweet Above National Security

 

Take News / Flickr Right here s Everybody Donald Trump...
Take News / Flickr

In the sanity of the Obama administration, cell phones were handed over every thirty days for security purposes.  In the Trump mal-administration, Trump has gone as long as five months without having his phone examined, finding it “too inconvenient” to deal with. Politico:

Trump’s reluctance to submit to White House security protocols that would limit his ability to tweet or contact friends freely is a case of the president’s personal peculiarities colliding with the demands of his office — a tension created in part because of society’s growing attachment to mobile technology over the past decade.

Naturally, in his characteristic myopic selfishness, Trump puts his own comfort even in trivial things above the larger issues of his duty to his office.

“Foreign adversaries seeking intelligence about the U.S. are relentless in their pursuit of vulnerabilities in our government’s communications networks, and there is no more sought-after intelligence target than the president of the United States,” said Nate Jones, former director of counterterrorism on the National Security Council in the Obama administration and the founder of Culper Partners, a consulting firm.

While the president has the authority to override or ignore the advice provided by aides and advisers for reasons of comfort or convenience, Jones said, “doing so could pose significant risks to the country.”

Trump campaigned in part on his denunciations of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state — a system that made classified information vulnerable to hacking by hostile actors.

“Her server was easily hacked by foreign governments, perhaps even by her financial backers in communist China — sure they have it — putting all of America and our citizens in danger, great danger,” Trump said in a June 2016 speech in which he called Clinton “the most corrupt person ever to run for president.” He repeatedly vowed on the trail to “lock her up.”

The most corrupt person ever to run for office did indeed run in 2016 and it was not Hillary Clinton.


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