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Monday: A Border Too Far

In this roundup: Turkey, pipelines, and a border not meant to be crossed.

It’s nearly the end of the final Monday of 2016’s General Election campaign season. This shit show is nearly over. Thank every greater power in the universe we made it this far through these cumulative horrors.

Speaking of horrors, this Monday’s movie short is just that — a simple horror film, complete with plenty of bloody gritty gore. Rating on it is mature, not for any adult content but for its violence. The film is about illegal immigrants who want more from life, but it plays with the concepts of alien identity and zombie-ism. Who are the illegals, the aliens, the zombies? What is the nature of the predator and their prey? Does a rational explanation for the existence of the monstrous legitimize the horror they perpetuate in any way?

The logline for this film includes an even shorter tag line: Some borders aren’t meant to be crossed. This is worth meditating on after the horrors we’ve seen this past six months. Immigrants and refugees aren’t the monsters. And women aren’t feeble creatures to be marginalized and counted out.

Should also point out this film’s production team is mostly Latin American. This is the near-future of American storytelling and film. I can’t wait for more.

Tough Turkey
The situation in Turkey is extremely challenging, requiring diplomacy a certain Cheeto-headed candidate is not up to handling and will screw up if he places his own interests ahead of that of the U.S. and the rest of the world.

  • Luxembourg’s foreign minister compares Erdoğan’s purge to Nazi Germany (Deutsche Welle) — Yeah, I can’t argue with this when a political party representing an ethnic minority and a group sharing religious dogma are targeted for removal from jobs, arrest and detention.
  • Op-Ed: Erdoğan targeting critics of all kinds (Guardian) — Yup. Media, judges, teachers, persons of Kurdish heritage or Gulenist religious bent, secularists, you name it. Power consolidation in progress. Democracy, my left foot.
  • HDP boycotts Turkish parliament after the arrest of its leaders (BBC) — Erdoğan claimed the arrested HDP leaders were in cahoot with the PKK, a Kurdish group identified as a terrorist organization. You’ll recall HDP represents much of Turkey’s Kurdish minority. But Erdoğan also said he doesn’t care if the EU calls him a dictator; he said the EU abets terrorism. Sure. Tell the cities of Paris and Brussels that one. Think Erdoğan has been taking notes from Trump.
  • U.S. and Turkish military leaders meet to work out Kurd-led ops against ISIS (Guardian) — Awkward. Turkish military officials were still tetchy about an arrangement in which Kurdish forces would act against ISIS in Raqqa, Syria, about 100 miles east of Aleppo. The People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia — the Kurdish forces — will work in concert with Arab members of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) coalition in Raqqa to remove ISIS. Initial blame aimed at the PKK for a car bomb after HDP members were arrested heightened existing tensions between Erdoğan loyalists and the Kurds, though ISIS later took responsibility for the deadly blast. Depending on whose take one reads, the Arab part of SDF will lead the effort versus any Kurdish forces. Turkey attacked YPG forces back in August while YPG and Turkey were both supposed to be routing ISIS.

In the background behind Erdoğan’s moves to consolidate power under the Turkish presidency and the fight to eliminate ISIS from Syria and neighboring territory, there is a struggle for control of oil and gas moving through or by Turkey.

Russia lost considerable revenue after oil prices crashed in 2014. A weak ruble has helped but to replace lost revenue based on oil’s price, Russia has increased output to record levels. Increase supply only reduces price, especially when Saudi Arabia, OPEC producers, and Iran cannot agree upon and implement a production limit. If Russia will not likewise agree to production curbs, oil prices will remain low and Russia’s revenues will continue to flag.

Increasing pipelines for both oil and gas could bolster revenues, however. Russia can literally throttle supply near its end of hydrocarbon pipelines and force buyers in the EU and everywhere in between to pay higher rates — the history of Ukrainian-Russian pipeline disputes demonstrates this strategy. Bypassing Ukraine altogether would help Russia avoid both established rates and conflict there with the west. The opportunities encourage Putin to deal with Erdoğan, renormalizing relations after Turkey shot down a Russian jet last November. Russia and Turkey had met in summer of 2015 to discuss a new gas pipeline; they’ve now met again in August and in October to return to plans for funding the same pipeline.

A previous pipeline ‘war’ between Russia and the west ended in late 2014. This conflict may only have been paused, though. Between Russia’s pressure to sell more hydrocarbons to the EU, threats to pipelines from PKK-attributed terrorism and ISIS warfare near Turkey’s southwestern border, and implications that Erdoğan has been involved in ISIS’ sales of oil to the EU, Erdoğan may be willing to drop pursuit of EU membership to gain more internal control and profit from Russia’s desire for more hydrocarbon revenues. In the middle of all this mess, Erdoğan has expressed a desire to reinstate the death penalty for alleged coup plotters and dissenters — a border too far for EU membership since death penalty is not permitted by EU law.

This situation requires far more diplomatic skill than certain presidential candidates will be able to muster. Certainly not from a candidate who doesn’t know what Aleppo is, and certainly not from a candidate who thinks he is the only solution to every problem.

Cybery miscellany

That’s it for now. I’ll put up an open thread dedicated to all things election in the morning. Brace yourselves.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Friday: Smells Like

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
A mulatto, an Albino
A mosquito, my libido, yeah


— excerpt, Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana

Been a rough week so I’m indulging myself with some double bass — and because it’s Friday, it’s jazz. This is 2009 Thelonious Monk Competition winner Ben Williams whose ‘Teen Spirit’ is both spirited and minimalist. Check out this set with Home and Dawn Of A New Day, the first embued with a hip-hoppy beatmaking rhythm.

More Shadows on the wall
While Marcy has some questions about the recent alleged Shadow Brokers’ hack of NSA-front Equation Group and malware staging servers, I have a different one.

Why is Cisco, a network equipment company whose equipment appears to have been backdoored by the NSA, laying off 20% of its workforce right now? Yeah, yeah, I hear there’s a downturn in networking hardware sales due to Brexit and the Chinese are fierce competitors and businesses are moving from back-end IT to the cloud, but I see other data that says 50-60% of ALL internet traffic flows through Cisco equipment and there are other forecasts anticipating internet traffic growth to double between now and 2020, thanks in part to more video streaming and mobile telecom growth replacing PCs. Sure, software improvements will mediate some of that traffic’s pressure on hardware, but still…there’s got to be both ongoing replacement of aging equipment and upgrades (ex: Southwest Airlines’ router-fail outage), let alone new sales, and moving the cloud only means network equipment is consolidated, not distributed. Speaking of new sales and that internet traffic growth, there must be some anticipation related to increased use of WiFi-enabled Internet of Things stuff (technical term, that — you know, like Philips’ Hue lighting and Google Nest thermostats and Amazon Echo/Alexa-driven services).

Something doesn’t add up. Or maybe something rolls up. I dunno’. There are comments out on the internet suggesting competitor Huawei is hiring — that’s convenient, huh?

AI and Spy

  • Data security firm working on self-tweeting AI (MIT Review) — The software can generate tweets more likely to illicit response from humans than the average phishing/spearphishing attempt. Seems a little strange that a data security company is working on a tool which could make humans and networks less secure, doesn’t it?
  • Toyota sinks a bunch of cash into AI project at U of Michigan (ReadWrite) — $22 million the automaker pledged to development of self-driving cars, stair-climbing wheelchairs and other mobility projects. Toyota has already invested in similar AI development programs at Stanford in Palo Alto, CA and MIT in Cambridge, MA. Funding academic research appears to be a means to avoid a bigger hit to the corporation’s bottom line if the technologies do not yield commercially viable technology.
  • Steganography developed to mask content inside dance music (MIT Review) — Warsaw University of Technology researcher co-opted the rhythm specific to Ibiza trance music genre. The embedded Morse code buried in rhythm could not be audibly detected by casual listeners as long as it did not distort the tempo by more than 2%.

Sci-like-Fi

  • New theory suggests fifth force of nature possible (Los Angeles Times) — The search for a “dark photon” may have led to a new theory explaining the existence and action of dark energy and dark matter, which together make up 95% of the universe. I admit I need to hunt down a better article on this; this one doesn’t make all the pieces snap into place for me. If you’ve seen a better one, please share in comments.
  • Sound wave-based black hole model may show Hawking radiation at work (Scientific American) — Can’t actually create a real black hole in the lab, but a model like this one created by an Israeli scientist using phonons (not photons) may prove Stephen Hawking was right about information leakage from black holes. The work focuses on the actions of quantum-entangled particle pairs which are separated on either side of the event horizon. Beyond adding to our understanding of the universe, how this work will be used isn’t quite clear. But use of quantum entanglement in cryptography is an important and growing field; I wouldn’t be surprised to see this finding shapes cryptographic development.
  • Pregnant women’s immune system response may affect fetus’ neurological system (MedicalXpress via Phys.org) — While an expectant mother’s immune system may prevent a virus from attacking her fetus, the protective process may still affect the fetus long term. Research suggests that some neurological disorders like schizophrenia and autism may be associated with maternal infections pre-birth.

Late adder: Travel Advisory issued for pregnant women to avoid Miami Beach area according to CDC — Five more cases of Zika have been identified and appeared to have originated in the newly identified second Zika zone, this one east of Biscayne Bay in the Miami Beach area. The initial Zika zone was on the west side of Biscayne Bay. The CDC also discouraged pregnant women and their sex partners from traveling to Miami-Dade County as a whole; the county has now had a total of 36 cases of Zika.

In the video in the report linked above, FL Gov. Rick Scott pokes at the White House about additional Zika assistance, but Scott previously reduced spending on mosquito control by 40%. Now he’s ready to pay private firms to tackle mosquito spraying. Way to go, Republican dirtbag. Penny wise, pound foolish, and now it’s somebody else’s job to bat cleanup.

Longread: Stampede at JFK
A firsthand account of the public’s stampede-like reaction to a non-shooting at New York’s JFK International Airport. To paraphrase an old adage, if all you have is a gun, everything looks and sounds like a shooting.

Let go of your fear and let the weekend begin.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Tuesday Morning: Don’t Drive Angry

Okay, campers, rise and shine! It’s Groundhog Day! Like that genius film Groundhog Day we are stuck in an unending, repeating hell — like the dark circus that is our general election cycle in the U.S.

The lesson: it’s hell by choice. Let’s choose better. What’ll we choose today?

BPS, replacement for plastic additive BPA, not so safe after all
Here’s a questionable choice we could examine: using BPS in “BPA-free” plastics. A study by Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA found that BPS negatively affects reproductive organs and increased the likelihood of “premature birth” in zebrafish, accelerating development of the embryos. Relatively small amounts and short exposures produced effects.

As disturbing as this finding may be, the FDA’s approach to BPA is worrisome. Unchanged since 2014 in spite of the many studies on BPA, the FDA’s website says BPA is safe. Wonder how long it will be before the FDA’s site says BPS is likewise safe?

Exoskeleton assists paraplegic for only $40,000
Adjustable to its wearer’s body, SuitX’s exoskeleton helps paraplegic users to walk, though crutches are still needed. It’s not a perfect answer to mobility given the amount of time it takes to put on the gear, but it could help paraplegics avoid injuries due to sitting for too long in wheelchairs. It’s much less expensive than a competing exoskeleton at $70K; the price is expected to fall over time.

SuitX received an NSF grant of $750,000 last April for its exoskeleton work. Seems like a ridiculous bargain considering how much we’ve already invested in DARPA and other MIC-development of exoskeletons with nothing commercial to show for it. Perhaps we should choose to fund more NSF grants instead of DOD research?

Patches and more patches — Cisco, Android, Microsoft

Dudes behaving badly

  • Former Secret Service agent involved in the Silk Road investigation and later charged with theft of $800K in Bitcoins has been arrested just one day before he was to begin serving his sentence for theft. This Silk Road stuff is a movie or cable series waiting to happen.
  • Massachusett’s Rep. Katherine Clark, who proposed the Interstate Swatting Hoax Act last November, was swatted this weekend. Fortunately, the local police used a low-key approach to the hoax call. Way to make the case for the bill‘s passage, swatters, let alone increased law enforcement surveillance.

I know I’ve missed something I meant to post, but I’ll choose to post it tomorrow and crawl back into my nest this morning to avoid my shadow. In the meantime, don’t drive angry!

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Sadness in the NSA-Telecom Bromance

In his report on an interview with the new Director of NSA, Admiral Mike Rogers, David Sanger gets some operational details wrong, starting with his claim that the new phone dragnet would require an “individual warrant.”

The new phone dragnet neither requires “warrants” (the standard for an order is reasonable suspicion, not probable cause), nor does it require its orders to be tied to “individuals,” but instead requires “specific selection terms” that may target facilities or devices, which in the past have been very very broadly interpreted.

All that said, I am interested in Rogers’ claims Sanger repeats about NSA’s changing relationship with telecoms.

He also acknowledged that the quiet working relationships between the security agency and the nation’s telecommunications and high technology firms had been sharply changed by the Snowden disclosures — and might never return to what they once were in an era when the relationships were enveloped in secrecy.

Oh darn!

Sadly, here’s where Sanger’s unfamiliarity with the details makes the story less useful. Publicly, at least, AT&T and Verizon have had significantly different responses to the exposure of the dragnet (though that may only be because Verizon’s name has twice been made public in conjunction with NSA’s dragnet, whereas AT&T’s has not been), and it’d be nice if this passage probed some of those details.

Telecommunications businesses like AT&T and Verizon, and social media companies, now insist that “you are going to have to compel us,” Admiral Rogers said, to turn over data so that they can demonstrate to foreign customers that they do not voluntarily cooperate. And some are far more reluctant to help when asked to provide information about foreigners who are communicating on their networks abroad. It is a gray area in the law in which American courts have no jurisdiction; instead, the agency relied on the cooperation of American-based companies.

Last week, Verizon lost a longstanding contract to run many of the telecommunications services for the German government. Germany declared that the revelations of “ties revealed between foreign intelligence agencies and firms” showed that it needed to rely on domestic providers.

After all, under Hemisphere, AT&T wasn’t requiring legal process even for domestic call records. I think it possible they’ve demanded the government move Hemisphere under the new phone dragnet, though if they have, we haven’t heard about it (it would only work if they defined domestic drug dealer suspects as associated with foreign powers who have some tie to terrorism). Otherwise, though, AT&T has not made a peep to suggest they’ll alter their decades-long overenthusiastic cooperation with the government.

Whereas Verizon has been making more audible complaints about their plight, long before the Germans started ending their contracts. And Sprint — unmentioned by Sanger — even demanded to see legal support for turning over phone data, including, apparently, turning over foreign phone data under ECPA;s exception in 18 U.S.C. § 2511(2)(f)‘s permitting telecoms to voluntarily provide foreign intelligence data. 

Given that background — and the fact ODNI released the opinions revealing Sprint’s effort, if not its name — I am curious whether the telecoms are really demanding process. If courts really had no jurisdiction then it is unclear how the government could obligate production

Though that may be what the Microsoft’s challenge to a government request for email held in Ireland is about, and that may explain why AT&T and Verizon, along with Cisco and Apple — for the most part, companies that have been more reticent about the government obtaining records in the US — joined that suit. (In related news, EU Vice President Viviane Reding says the US request for the data may be a violation of international law.)

Well, if the Microsoft challenge and telecom participation in the request for data overseas is actually an effort to convince the Europeans these corporations are demanding legal process, Admiral Rogers just blew their cover.

Admiral Rogers said the majority of corporations that had long given the agency its technological edge and global reach were still working with it, though they had no interest in advertising the fact.

Dear Ireland and the rest of Europe: Microsoft — which has long been rather cooperative with NSA, up to and including finding a way to obtain Skype data — may be fighting this data request just for show. Love, Microsoft’s BFF, Mike Rogers.

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 Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, 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 in Grand Rapids, MI.

How the NSA Deals with a Threat to Its Backbone Hegemony

I have talked before about the importance of US’ dominant role in global telecom infrastructure in our hegemonic position.

US hegemony rests on a lot of things: the dollar exchange, our superlative military, our ideological lip service to democracy and human rights.

But for the moment, it also rests on the globalized communication system in which we have a huge competitive advantage. That is, one reason we are the world’s hegemon is because the rest of the world communicates through us — literally, in terms of telecommunications infrastructure, linguistically, in English, and in terms of telecommunications governance.

Which is why these stories (NYT, Spiegel’s short version, to be followed by a longer one Monday) about NSA’s targeting of Huawei are so interesting. Der Spiegel lays out the threat Huawei poses to US hegemony.

“We currently have good access and so much data that we don’t know what to do with it,” states one internal document. As justification for targeting the company, an NSA document claims that “many of our targets communicate over Huawei produced products, we want to make sure that we know how to exploit these products.” The agency also states concern that “Huawei’s widespread infrastructure will provide the PRC (People’s Republic of China) with SIGINT capabilities.” SIGINT is agency jargon for signals intelligence. The documents do not state whether the agency found information indicating that to be the case.

The operation was conducted with the involvement of the White House intelligence coordinator and the FBI. One document states that the threat posed by Huawei is “unique”.

The agency also stated in a document that “the intelligence community structures are not suited for handling issues that combine economic, counterintelligence, military influence and telecommunications infrastructure from one entity.”

Fears of Chinese Influence on the Net

The agency notes that understanding how the firm operates will pay dividends in the future. In the past, the network infrastructure business has been dominated by Western firms, but the Chinese are working to make American and Western firms “less relevant”. That Chinese push is beginning to open up technology standards that were long determined by US companies, and China is controlling an increasing amount of the flow of information on the net. [my emphasis]

And the NSA document the NYT included makes this threat clear.

There is also concern that Huawei’s widespread infrastructure will provide the PRC with SIGINT capabilities and enable them to perform denial of service type attacks.

Now, for what it’s worth, the NYT story feels like a limited hangout — an attempt to pre-empt what Spiegel will say on Monday, and also include a bunch of details on NSA spying on legitimate Chinese targets so the chattering class can talk about how Snowden is a tool of Chinese and Russian spies. (Note, the NYT story relies on interviews with a “half dozen” current and former officials for much of the information on legitimate Chinese targets here, a point noted by approximately none of the people complaining.)

But the articles make it clear that 3 years after they started this targeted program, SHOTGIANT, and at least a year after they gained access to the emails of Huawei’s CEO and Chair, NSA still had no evidence that Huawei is just a tool of the People’s Liberation Army, as the US government had been claiming before and since. Perhaps they’ve found evidence in the interim, but they hadn’t as recently as 2010.

Nevertheless the NSA still managed to steal Huawei’s source code. Not just so it could more easily spy on people who exclusively use Huawei’s networks. But also, it seems clear, in an attempt to prevent Huawei from winning even more business away from Cisco.

I suspect we’ll learn far more on Monday. But for now, we know that even the White House got involved in an operation targeting a company that threatens our hegemony on telecom backbones.

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 Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, 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 in Grand Rapids, MI.

The Crux of the Cisco-US Government Collaboration

As I said in this comment, we’re going to have to wait until the Canadian court releases more details on the failed extradition of Peter Alfred Adekeye to get a better sense of what the government did to piss off the court so badly. But this is my attempt to  the crux of the matter.

The Adekeye deposition in Canada was set up in April 2010 for a several day time period in May. On May 19 at the deposition, Adekeye admitted to accessing Cisco’s website perhaps five times, though he said a Cisco employee had offered him that access. That part of his deposition was streamed back to Northern California. That same day–May 19–the arrest warrant was signed in the US (making it possible that Adekeye’s deposition served to establish the probable cause to arrest him). And the Magistrate who signed the US arrest warrant was the same Magistrate overseeing discovery in this case. By the time Adekeye was arrested on May 20, his lawyers had not yet had an opportunity to question Adekeye. In effect, Cisco had gotten 14 hours of unrebutted deposition from Adekeye, after which he became unavailable to his lawyers.

In response, his lawyers requested that the civil procedure be stayed and that the judge order an accelerated discovery from Cisco with regards to its involvement in getting Adekeye extradited. As they described in their motion for a stay,

Mr. Adekeye’s deposition commenced in Vancouver, Canada on May 18, 2010. After Cisco spent nearly fourteen (14) full hours deposing Mr. Adekeye, the proceedings were interrupted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who were accompanied by additional uniformed Vancouver Police Officers. The Mounted Police informed counsel and the Special Master appointed by the Court to oversee Mr. Adekeye’s deposition, that they were there in order to effectuate the arrest of Mr. Adekeye. The Mounted Police presented to counsel and the Special Master a “Warrant For Provisional Arrest” issued pursuant to Section 13 of the Extradition Act, wherein the Honourable Mr. Justice Leask had executed a provisional arrest warrant for Mr. Adekeye. Attached to this provisional arrest warrant was a bench warrant issued by the Honorable Howard R. Lloyd—the assigned Magistrate Judge to this matter–for the arrest of Mr. Adekeye.

[snip]

At no point during these entire proceedings was there any mention to Mr. Adekeye or to his attorneys of a criminal investigation relating to the exact same facts underlying the instant civil lawsuit. Instead, Cisco insisted that the Court order Mr. Adekeye to be deposed, and proceeded to depose Mr. Adekeye for fourteen (14) hours. Despite having over three (3) days to do so, Cisco did not finish its questioning of Mr. Adekeye prior to his arrest. Mr. Adekeye’s attorneys, moreover, were entirely unable to question their client in order to clarify or develop Mr. Adekeye’s responses further. Because Mr. Adekeye is currently detained in Canada, without bail, he has not been able to review his testimony pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 30, nor has he been able to otherwise summarize his testimony or prepare an affidavit to the Court requesting an extension of time to further brief the Underlying Motions.

In addition to the very real Fifth Amendment issues now a part of this case, Multiven fears that in the event the Court does not vacate or continue the supplemental briefing deadline and the June 7 hearing, Cisco will present, as evidence in support of its Underlying Motion, incomplete deposition testimony of a party witness. Such incomplete, one-sided and out of context evidence is entirely prejudicial to Multiven, and the Court should not consider it.

The judge denied both motions, largely because in the interim both parties had submitted briefs based on Adekeye’s deposition.

So in effect, the timing of the arrest accomplished two things. It gave Cisco an advantage in the civil case (insofar as Adekeye’s lawyers didn’t have a chance to depose him). But it also likely elicited evidence that supported Adekeye’s arrest warrant.

Within 2 months of the arrest, the judge ruled on the summary judgments, basically ruling against Adekeye. Here’s the logic he used to justify the claim that Adekeye got unauthorized access to Cisco’s compuuters.

Multiven admit that on one occasion Adekeye accessed secure areas of the Cisco network. They contend however, that a Cisco employee, Wes Olson, supplied Adekeye with his login and password, thus authorizing Adekeye to access the restricted website. (Multiven’s Opposition at 7-12.) It is undisputed that Wes Olson provided Adekeye with his login and “external” password. Olsen declares that the password was given to Adekeye “to give him access to Cisco’s network on one occasion, for a specific purpose.”10 However, it is also undisputed that an employee’s giving his login and password to Adekeye was a violation of Cisco’s policies, and thus Olson’s providing access to Adekeye in this manner did not constitute a valid authorization.

And here’s how he dismissed the Fifth Amendment concerns about the deposition.

On June 8, 2010, Multiven filed a Motion to Stay Counterclaims. (hereafter, “Motion to Stay,” Docket Item No. 234.) Multiven contend that further litigation of the counterclaims will jeopardize Adekeye’s Fifth Amendment privileges in parallel criminal proceedings arising out of the same factual circumstances. (Motion to Stay at 5-7.)

[snip]

Here, Adekeye has already voluntarily submitted declarations in support of Multiven’s briefs regarding the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment and has been deposed extensively, including fourteen hours of deposition testimony that he voluntarily provided in Vancouver, Canada prior to his arrest. Without deciding whether Adekeye was sufficiently aware of the likelihood of criminal prosecution for his declarations and deposition testimony to effect a waiver of his Fifth Amendment rights,21 the Court finds that continuing the litigation will only minimally implicate Adekeye’s Fifth Amendment rights, given the extensive testimony he has already provided in this

case.

So that’s the real background to the settlement: Cisco had largely already won on their substantive claim, using evidence from Adekeye’s partial deposition. Which left Adekeye with the risk that continuing his anti-trust claim would expose him to ongoing risk on the criminal claims.

Now it does seem like Adekeye is vulnerable in the computer fraud charges (though presumably 5 of them, not 97). But at the same time, it does seem clear that the government used the deposition to set up–and probably collect evidence for–the arrest and with it the criminal case.

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 Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, 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 in Grand Rapids, MI.

Is Apparent US Conspiracy with Cisco about Wiretapping?

Canada has just discovered how much corporations own our legal system, how our legal system criminalizes whistleblowers, and our utter and total disdain for the rule of law.

At issue is the apparent conspiracy between Cisco and the US government to respond to an anti-trust lawsuit launched by Peter Alfred Adekeye, a former Cisco employee. He sued because of the way Cisco forced customers to buy a maintenance contract for things like bug fixes.

This lawsuit is about Cisco’s deliberate and continuing attempt to monopolize for itself (and its “partners” (Cisco-authorized resellers of Cisco equipment and services nationwide) with which it does not significantly compete) the service and maintenance of Cisco enterprise (Cisco networking equipment for all segments (e.g., internet service providers, government, academia, small, medium and large business, etc.) with the exception of home networking equipment) hardware, principally routers, switches and firewalls. Cisco possesses a market share of approximately 70% in the networking equipment industry.

[snip]

To protect its over $6 billion yearly stream of service and maintenance revenue, Cisco has cleverly and uniquely conditioned the provision of its software “updates” on the customer’s purchase of a hardware maintenance service agreement called “SMARTnet,”

[snip]

The effect of this leveraging of monopoly power and unlawful tie-in and/or bundling is to effectively preclude any non-Cisco affiliated Independent Service Organization (“ISO”) from competing for the business of servicing Cisco networking hardware, thus preserving for itself all but a pittance of that line of commerce which is separate and distinct from the “updates” of its software.

In response, Cisco counter-sued, accusing Adekeye of illegally accessing Cisco services. And Cisco either lied persuasively or got DOJ to conspire in the intimidation campaign, because DOJ then charged Adekeye with 97 violations that–the Canadian judge who just blew this up suggested–should have only amounted to one single violation.

The US also refused to allow Adekeye to enter the US after 2008, meaning he couldn’t testify in the litigation. Finally, in 2010, he flew to Canada to testify. At that point, the US had him arrested by the Mounties, based on false claims (among other things) that he was a shady Nigerian. He was held for four weeks, and then made to stay in Canada on restrictive bail conditions ever since as the US tried to have him extradited.

Justice [Ronald] McKinnon thought this case met the test and was flabbergasted by Adekeye’s “shocking” arrest during a judicial proceeding: “It is simply not done in a civilized jurisdiction that is bound by the rule of law.”

This was an egregious abuse of process and brought the administration of justice into disrepute, he concluded.

In his piece on this Sirota suggests that, if the US did conspire with Cisco, it probably did so in response to lobbying.

But I wonder if there’s not something more going on? Here’s how James Bamford described the government’s efforts to partner with Cisco on wiretapping in his book, The Shadow Factory.

One of the ways to covertly penetrate both the Internet and fiber-optic communications is to target their weakest point, the point where the systems interconnect–the routers.

[snip]

By discovering the weak spots and vulnerabilities of in this “postal service,” the NSA has the ability to target and intercept much of the electronic mail.

Thus, as [Deputy Director for Services Terry] Thompson further explained at the 1999 meeting, one of the NSA’s goals should be to hire away, on a short-term basis, people from key companies such as Cisco. Having hired them, the agency could use their knowledge and expertise to “reverse engineer” the systems and find ways to install back doors.

Just a gut level feel. If Adekeye’s initial suit hinted at something that played a key role in maintaining NSA’s access to all communications crossing Cisco’s routers, or if a successful suit would have made it harder to suck the worlds telecommunications off the network, that might explain the government’s seeming conspiracy with Cisco.

Alternately, maybe our government is just that fucking crazy.

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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 Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, 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 in Grand Rapids, MI.