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Wednesday, March 26

After all that Sturm und Drang

After the Wall Street Journal and Daily Beast and characters such as Joshua Foust and John R. Schindler worked up fantastic explanations involving Edward Snowden and kept analysts such as The Wire's Philip Bump busy trying to wrest order from the chaos they set off -- after all that:

TIME magazine, March 24:
Earlier this month, as Russia began its takeover of the region of Crimea, U.S. spy agencies reportedly found a worrying silence in the spot where they were listening most attentively — the digital space around Russian President Vladimir Putin and his military brass. As the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, U.S. intelligence services could not intercept any communications on the start of the Crimean invasion. One U.S. official called it a piece of “classic maskirovka,” the Russian spy term for masking sensitive data.

But at least part of the radio silence may have a simpler explanation: Putin, by his own admission, does not have a cell phone for the Americans to tap.
Or smart phone. According to the report he's just not a big user of "technologies," period.  TIME calls this technophobia.  Somewhat like Obama saying Putin looks like a bored schoolboy at the back of the class. Putin's taken Obama to school so many times one would think Obama'd be a foreign relations expert by now.

But I'm sure John Schindler would say that Putin's technophobia is not the sole reason the NSA was blind about Russia's moves in Ukraine. The other reason being that they had help from Ed Snowden in flummoxing NSA's All Seeing Eye although Schindler allows it can never be proved. 

Reportedly that is what is teaching a class at the U.S. Naval War College. 

But I wish I could be like Schindler. I wish I could say that all the Snowden Russian Spy stories are emanating from a single desk in the British foreign office although I know it can never proved. 

I also wish I could tell you that House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers is a shape-shifting lizard from another planet.  I know this for a fact because only beings from that planet would find nothing strange about saying your privacy can't be violated if you don't know it's being violated. 

That is what has been duly elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Actually Obama has tried to send Rogers back but their envoy informed him that would be casus belli.

In more news from the insane asylum Bump's piece is delightfully titled, Are Intelligence Officials Justified in Blaming Snowden for Not Predicting Crimea?

Another illustration of why AI still has a long way to go.

But it's all good so I can't think of a better ending for this post than to quote from a Mother Jones article in 2012 about Putin flying a hang glider to lead some young endangered Mongolian cranes to their migratory route: 
During a televised phone-in session last year, when he was prime minister, a viewer asked why Putin looked more comfortable with tigers and leopards than his own ministers.

"The more I know people, the more I like dogs," Putin replied, paraphrasing the Greek philosopher Diogenes. "I simply like animals."
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