Citing a Culture of “Verified Trust,” DefCon Asks Feds Not to Come

Even after I wrote this post, few people following the NSA story seem to get that James Clapper’s lie to Ron Wyden was just the culmination of a seven month effort on Wyden’s part to get Keith Alexander to correct two misleading statements he made in an unclassified forum at DefCon last year.

That is, when Wyden asked Clapper “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on ‘millions or hundreds of millions of Americans’?,” he was trying to correct Alexander’s dodge — by way of introducing the notion of “dossiers” — that the NSA doesn’t collect information on all Americans.

Which we now know, thanks to Edward Snowden’s leaks, it does.

So I’m not surprised that — a year after Alexander made lies that have now been exposed as such — DefCon has asked the Feds not to come. (h/t Brian Krebs)

FEDS, WE NEED SOME TIME APART.

POSTED 7.10.13

For over two decades DEF CON has been an open nexus of hacker culture, a place where seasoned pros, hackers, academics, and feds can meet, share ideas and party on neutral territory. Our community operates in the spirit of openness, verified trust, and mutual respect.

When it comes to sharing and socializing with feds, recent revelations have made many in the community uncomfortable about this relationship. Therefore, I think it would be best for everyone involved if the feds call a “time-out” and not attend DEF CON this year.

This will give everybody time to think about how we got here, and what comes next. [my emphasis]

The other content of Snowden’s leaks aside, the Verizon order and the minimization procedures show that what Alexander did last year was dress up in a hacker costume and lie — not just about the degree to which NSA collects the contacts of all Americans (the lie Ron Wyden worked so hard to correct), but also about the protections offered to people who encrypt their communications (that is, hackers).

As such, any chill between the Feds and hackers should not be laid at Snowden’s feet. They should be laid at General Alexander’s.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

2 replies
  1. lefty665 says:

    Whether or not they attend, they’ll be there. Hard to hold a DefCon with no electronic emissions.

  2. Sundog says:

    Thumbs up to previous comment!

    I’ve only recently started paying attention to Marci’s work. Hope this isn’t out of line or redundant.

    Just wanted to note that “TxSharon” highlights the use of metadata in US energy industry PR efforts.

    http://www.texassharon.com/2012/05/03/are-you-in-the-big-gas-mafias-psyop-database/

    I’m not that much a fan of “psyop” buzzword scary-scary reportage, but it ain’t hard to imagine a powerful VP with deep ties to fossil fuel energy interests steering metadata collection to contractors which also happen to share similar interests.

    The biz/gov entanglement is my fave aspect of the mess to track, not that “secret Supreme Court” doesn’t catch my eye.

    Cheers

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