Why Choose?

I had too many jalapenos on my burrito last night, and dreamed that I’d read a letter to the editor in a 1942 edition of the Strib that read something like “Aren’t Americans racist for going to war against Germany, when the Deutsche-Amerikanische Bund is preaching rapprochement with Germany?”

I wanted to yell “But one country declared war on us, while the Bund, ill-advised as their ethnic sympathies turned out to be, were exercising their First Amendment rights!”…

…but I couldn’t.  Because blogs didn’t exist in 1942.  And either did I.

But I woke up – both extant, and with my blog humming right along – and, given the nightmare I’d just awoken from, was almost overjoyed to read this bit of intensely flawed reasoning in an op-ed by Jesse Zettel.

In the past week, there has been much talk of whether Apple should help the FBI gain access to a smartphone of one of the San Bernardino, Calif., shooters. At stake is whether we are willing to sacrifice some of our freedom for some security.

The correct answer – someone tell all seven Presidential candidates – is no, we should not be.  But that’s not really the subject, here.

In the past when the question was about guns, our answer has been a resounding no. Now that the question is about our privacy, there seem to be a lot of people saying yes.

Ah, yes – the group of people that I’ll call the “omnisicent ‘a lot'”; that group of People Not Like Me that we’re assured exist and confirm your thesis, notwithstanding their being your personal anecdote.

How many people do this?  A lot of people… – oh, snap.  Now I’m doing it!

Carry on.

On “The McLaughlin Group” last weekend, Pat Buchanan cited a Latin phrase “salus populi suprema lex,” meaning “the safety of the people is the highest law.” He doesn’t say that when it comes to guns.

He’s leading up to something, here.  I can almost taste it.

We’ll come back to that.

In other words: We will not give up our freedom to easily access weapons of war for the sake of safety, but we might be open to giving up our privacy.

We’re dealing with two different “omniscient a lots” here:

  • “A lot of people” erroneously believe that you can “hack” just one iPhone to get at information.  Some – Trump – echo Buchanan’s statist beliefs.  Others – Marco Rubio among them – don’t know how software architecture works (and, admit it, most likely either do you).   They’re not malicious, stupid, or closeted fascists – they’re uninformed.
  • Another “lot of people” think that by controlling the access of law-abiding citizens to gun, you make society “safer”.  They are equally ill-informed, although since the truth is out there and doesn’t require any technical background to understand, they are more likely to be willfully ignorant, stupid or malicious.  Not all of them.  Just a lot of them…oh, there I go again.

Back to Mr. Zettel:

If part of what the FBI wants to find in that phone is how the shooters got the guns, it need look no further than a Wal-Mart or a gun show.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant knows that this is where to get guns, and it tells its followers as much.

Easy access to guns is the Trojan horse of our time. ISIL didn’t have to send a shooter. It didn’t even have to provide the guns: Our own laws did that.

Shall we continue that train of thought?

If the FBI wants to know where terrorists get bomb fixins, they need look no further than any farm supply store.

If they want to know where they get the material to incinerate people, they need look no further than a gas station or a propane vendor.

If they want to bring down three skyscrapers, they need to look no further than the nearest airport.

If they want to create a ghastly wave of up-close-and-personal terror, they need only visit the cutlery section at Target.  It’s happened.  (note to Mr. Zettel – guess how that particular wave of terror got stopped?  You’re not gonna like it)

And the next victim of these misguided laws may well be our privacy.

Why is it that the ability of gun manufacturers to sell weapons of war is held sacred, while our own privacy is considered negotiable?

Let’s put that strawman out of our misery; the smart people support all freedom – the right to privacy and the government’s obligation to observe due process, as well as the constitutional, civil, human right to keep and bear arms.

Mr. Zettel – to invert his thesis – is clamoring to give up our right to defend ourselves from criminals and terrorists and our government, while exalting the right to privacy.

I wonder if the next time there is a mass shooting in this country (and there will be more), we will be willing to look at the easy access to guns that makes these shootings so commonplace, rather than searching for other freedoms we might be willing to give up instead. Something has to give. After all: “salus populi suprema lex.”

Here’s another Latin phrase.  It’s more applicable to this “debate”: Ne contumeliam mea intelligentia; argumentum est puerile et infans.

17 thoughts on “Why Choose?

  1. I have to say I’m firmly in Apple’s camp.

    The government is compelling Apple to create a completely new product based on one it sells and has no possible market elsewhere. It is demanding that said product run on its product in ways the present product does not (details: the FBI demands that Apple do a new “GovtOS” that does not run out of ROM but solely out of RAM so that they can claim that evidence is “preserved” in the ROMs, something the current version of iOS does not do and something that is likely impossible on the 5c and certainly impossible on the 6 and beyond). It is demanding that Apple do this ad-infinitum, not just once — by its own admission there are at least other 12 non-terrorism related Apple devices in the lawsuit pipeline using the same All Writs reasoning.

    Apple is arguing the same way I said they would: this is highly burdensome. Their latest filing is a smaller effort than I would have suspected (6-10 engineers for 2-4 weeks just to write the code, documentation support (so they can tell the FBI how to use what they did), plus revision testing lab resources, etc so at Silicon Valley rates well north of $2M of development expenses), not to mention impact to other Apple development efforts since many of those engineers would have to be pulled from commercial products. The certainty of other requests would mean that this would essentially turn into a permanent development requirement, significantly adding to Apple’s overhead and adding to their overall corporate risk since they would have to maintain absolute security on this development so that it never go out into the wild.

    They are also concerned that they are not directly involved in this action and that the government is drawing them in in a way not supported by the Act. “Apple is no more connected to this phone than General Motors is to a company car used by a fraudster on his daily commute.”

    Also, the government screwed up (what’s new?). “Here, by contrast, the government has failed to demonstrate that the requested order was absolutely necessary to effectuate the search warrant, including that it exhausted all other avenues for recovering information.” The new GovtOS is now necessary because the government in this case reset the password, blocking other, non-burdensome solutions by its own incompetence.

    Nor has the government acknowledged reaching out to its own resources to unlock the device (e.g. the NSA), which should be at least part of an argument about the necessity of Apple doing this work. (Anyone who doesn’t think the NSA can root a 5s probably isn’t aware of the history of the NSA. But the NSA accessing the device probably won’t leave it in the state where evidence could be used from the device in a court of law.)

    Apple has other arguments (1st and 5th Amendments, etc) that are more tailored for the appeals process. It’s choosing to go after the All Writs reasoning with both barrels on this first try rather than argue based on the due process part of “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

  2. I think they (APPL) wants to protect their bottom line. They didn’t care on previous versions of iPhones.

  3. No, EI, wrong as usual. They did care. What they’ve done incrementally is learn the right way to implement these things, and they’ve shifted more and more appropriate security concerns to defaults. Much of the problem is that to do this security correctly, you need a fair bit of horsepower.

    In fact, there are suggestions that they will make it impossible to create the brute-force enabling ‘GovtOS’ in the next rev or two of the iPhone — they’ll make the wipe by default be an integral part of the hardware so that they are unable to hack the passcode. That’s actually a very good idea, because if Apple can hack the brute force off, there’s no doubt that other state-level hackers can do the same and that eventually criminal level hackers will be able to do so.

  4. Incompetent rubes at FBI want a backdoor to make their lives easier and to slip the entire camel under the tent. That’s it. If FBI really cared to see what was on that phone, they would not care for chain of custody. They would have handed it to NSA and let CIA do the dirty work – no trials, no warrants. But that is not what this is about. This is about such a complete and utter degradation of US intelligence capabilities by the Current Occupant, that it makes even such libturd acolytes like Apple say “no”. And you can still count me in the camp of those who believe Apple can hack into that phone the brute way, albeit the one with no chain of custody.

  5. Pingback: Late Night With In The Mailbox: Extra Family-Size Okra Edition : The Other McCain

  6. I still don’t understand. Why doesn’t The Man just get a valid warrant for the contents of that one particular phone, and then find that it can or can’t access it? If the “suspect” had encrypted the phone on his own, could he be compelled to reveal the passcode? What does the manufacturer of the device have to do with it?

  7. Say Emery, you mind if I call you Dik? Anyway Dik, just how do you know who that picture is of?

    You ever meet Swiftee, Dik? I don’t think so.

    What is wrong with you, Dik? You claim credit for things other people write; you claim personal knowledge of things you couldn’t possibly know.

    You’re a pretty sick, lying, piece of shit, aren’t you, Dik?

  8. Haxor tool3 is badass shit, Bento. I used it to track down Dik. Not 100% sure, but there’s a pretty good chance this is our comment hemorrhoid right here:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.