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Why Apple / iPhone were right not to cooperate with the FBI in the San Bernardino Terrorism case; viewed in Light of the NSA hack

A while back, Apple had been ordered by a US court to help the FBI access data – or, in other words, hack their own device – on an iPhone belonging to San Bernardino gunman Rizwan Syed Farook. Farook and his wife killed 14 people in the California city and were subsequently shot dead at the scene by the police. This occurred late last year.

The FBI said that the phone contained information crucial to the investigation into the terrorist incident and that they needed Apple’s help to unlock it. Apple devices are encrypted by default – and have been since September 2014 – and no one other than the owner of the device can gain access without the passcode. The encryption Apple uses is one of the top in the world and that is great news for anyone who appreciates their privacy, but not such good news for law enforcement agencies.

iphone

Once a device is locked, the only way to open it is by entering a password or by using the biometric finger scan.  If the erase setting is on, the data will be deleted once ten incorrect attempts have been made. The FBI wanted access to the contents of Farook’s iPhone and wanted Apple to do two things:

  • Make changes to the device Farook used, such it would be possible to make unlimited attempts at unlocking it.
  • Make it possible for the FBI to “brute force” attack the phone to speed up the time it takes to find the correct unlock code. Brute force (also known as brute force cracking) is a trial and error method used by application programs to decode encrypted data such as passwords or Data Encryption Standard (DES) keys, through exhaustive effort (using brute force) rather than employing intellectual strategies.Farook uses a four digit PIN code, which means there are 10,000 possible combinations.

Apple contested the court order, which was based upon a statute from the 1700’s and Tim Cook wrote an open letter to customers explaining the attitude of the company. The letter, in part, reads as follows:

The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.

This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.

The Need for Encryption

Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.  [see Riley v. California, 573 U.S. ___ (2014), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court unanimously held that the warrantless search and seizure of digital contents of a cell phone during an arrest is unconstitutional.]

All this information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access, steal, and use it without our knowledge or consent. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in their power to protect their personal information, and at Apple, “we are deeply committed to the protection of their data.

Compromising the security of our personal information may ultimately put our personal safety. That is the reason why so important for all encryption has become for us.

“Compromising the security of our personal information may ultimately put our personal safety. That is the reason why so important for all encryption has become for us.

“For many years we have used encryption to protect the personal information of our customers because we believe it is the only way to keep their information secure. We even we found this information from our own range because we believe that the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.”

The Terrorism Case in San Bernardino

“We were shocked and outraged by the deadly act of terrorism in San Bernardino last December. We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected. The FBI asked us for help in the days after the attack, and we have worked hard to support the efforts of the government to solve this terrible crime. We have no sympathy for terrorists.” Said Apple.

“They went on: “When the FBI data requested in our possession, we have the information. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the case of San Bernardino. We also have Apple engineers to advise available to the FBI, and we have our best ideas on a number of investigative options offered at their disposal.

“We have great respect for the professionals of the FBI, and we believe that their intentions are good. Up to this point, we do everything within our power and done within the law to help them. But now the US government has asked us to something we simply cannot, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor for the iPhone.

“In particular, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, bypassing some important security features, and install on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software – which does not exist today – would have the potential to unlock an iPhone in one’s physical possession.

“The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use is limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”

The Threat to Data Security

Some argue that the construction of a backdoor for just an iPhone is a simple, clean-cut solution. But it ignores both the basics of digital security and the sense of what the government requires in this case.

In today’s digital world, the “key” to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protection around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by someone with that knowledge.

Apple has the right to reject this judgment, because what it says is too valuable to lose the game. The government essentially asking Apple to eliminate a crucial feature of the iPhone security and create a key that can unlock any Apple device.

The government wants us to be confident that it will only use this power for good – to protect its citizens against the bad guys – but there is no way this backdoor will not be misused and abused.

While Apple has argued the government’s request could endanger consumer privacy at large, the U.S. has said that it’s asking the company for something quite narrow: tools to crack one iPhone. FBI director James Comey wrote earlier this week that the agency “doesn’t want to… set a master key loose on the land.”

In its new filing, Apple says the U.S. is making that claim even though “the government itself falls victim to hackers, cyber-criminals, and foreign agents on a regular basis.”

A Dangerous Precedent
“Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.

[28 U.S. Code § 1651 – The All Writs Act]

the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.

(a) The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.
(b) An alternative writ or rule nisi may be issued by a justice or judge of a court which has jurisdiction.]

“The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by “brute force,” trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.

“The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.

The recent NSA disclosures of hacking tools

One Saturday in August came breaking news that a mysterious group of hackers calling themselves “The Shadow Brokers” claimed to have hacked an NSA-linked group and stole several NSA hacking tools with a promise to sell more private “cyber weapons” to the highest bidder. This mysterious online group claimed to have stolen US “cyber weapons” of a hacking team named Comparison Group. The claims have proven true.

The stolen hacking tools are used by the National Security Agency and the violation of its systems and tools led to a boast by the Shadow Brokers that it has access to a number of secret tools of the agency. In the latest twist, the group is now selling copies of these tools online.

Here are the things you need to know about the fallout

“We will give you some free Equation Group Files,” the Shadow Brokers proclaimed in messages online that offer downloads for the code of the pilfered files. These include malware and hacking tools that are terrifying out in the open for anyone to use. Gone are the days of security thanks to a lack of proper security by the NSA and it’s contractors. Again (read: Edward Snowden). The reason for this, the Shadow Brokers say, is to prove that the information was real and devastating before they sell out the rest of the NSA hacking instruments gathered in the hack. The Shadow Brokers also said the Equation Group “do not know what is lost” and would offer the group the hacking tools for a price, so it will not disclose the data.

“do not know what is lost” and would offer the group the hacking tools for a price, so it will not disclose the data

“The first file contains close to 300MBs firewall exploits, tools and scripts under cryptonyms as BANANAUSURPER, BLATSTING, and BUZZ DIRECTION,” Kaspersky said in a detailed blog post. However, that post made clear that Kapersky saw file logs dated as far back as October 2013.

It is not quite known exactly what the group has access to, but it has a number of images of the files (and their structures) posted on social media. These are believed to come from the comparison group and is claimed to be a small part of what the Brokers have opened. Although messages on Pastebin, Tumblr, and Github have been removed, that still exists by the group on Twitter and Imgur.

Another hacker has claimed to have more of hacking tools stolen from the NSA. According to another technical report published again by security firm Kaspersky Labs, the leaked sophisticated hacking tools include digital signatures that are identical to those in the hacking software and malware that have been previously used by the Equation Group.

“Although we have neither the identity or motivation of the attacker, nor where or how they came to be stolen treasure, we can say that a few hundred tools from the leak share a strong bond with our earlier findings from the Equation Group,” said Kaspersky researchers in a blog post. More than 300 computer files found in the online Shadow Brokers archive have a common implementation of RC5 and RC6 encryption algorithms – which are known to have been used extensively by the Equation Group.

So, it appears that the NSA is working on tools that would access everything in the world.  Apple was right to keep our data secure.  Privacy may be a quaint notion, but it is the last refuge from an ever-encroaching government. Apple doesn’t need to help the US Government violate the privacy of our cell phones.  They seem to have that well in hand all by themselves.

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Medical Marijuana Issues that Have Arisen in Ohio as a Result of their New Program

When Ohio Governor John Kasich last month effectively legalized medical marijuana in Ohio with his signature, the state became the 25th in the United States to legalize an extensive medical cannabis program, according to a count by the National Conference of State Legislatures. With D.C., that is more than half of the jurisdictions in the US that have legalized medical marijuana.

With the big move in Ohio, nearly 175 million Americans will have quick access to medical marijuana – put differently, that is more than half the population of the United States. Republican Gov. John Kasich signed a bill to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio, but patients should not expect to get it from dispensaries in Ohio anytime soon.

medical marijuana

Lawyer and author Jay Leiderman on medical marijuana law

The bill lays out a number of steps, for the first time in Ohio history, to guide the establishment of a medical marijuana program of the state. The medical marijuana program is expected to be fully operational in about two years. The law could allow patients to use marijuana in vapor form for certain chronic conditions, but bar them from smoking it in the classic “Pipe,” “joint” or “bong” manner, as well as barring patients from growing it at home.

When the law comes into force, which could move as quickly as 90 days for the beginning stages, cities and counties will be able to ban dispensaries or to limit the number of dispensaries in any one area. This has become a fairly common provision and is the law in many of the “medical” states.  Licensed growers, processors, dispensaries and testing laboratories could not be within 500 feet of schools, churches, public libraries, playgrounds, and parks. Employers can continue to drug testing to enforce and maintain drug-free workplaces, per federal law. Banks, whose services should be protected as they relate to marijuana-related entities, are immunized against criminal prosecution on the state level.  Of course, the Federal problem of banning FDIC insured banks from dealing with businesses that involve Schedule I controlled substances still overshadows and blocks any meaningful banking transactions.  Every year a bipartisan group of Senators pass a bill that would allow banks to be exempted from the aforementioned regulations in “medical” or even “legalized” states, and every year the Republican-controlled House refuses to vote on the bill.  And so we have it.  Washington.

The law could allow patients to use marijuana in vapor form for certain chronic conditions

Back to the Ohio program: A newly created Ohio Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee will assist in the development of regulations and recommendations. The governor and legislative leaders are to appoint people to the 14-member panel no later than 30 days after the bill date. The members; employers, labor, local police, health care providers, patients, agricultural workers, people in mental health treatment are to be involved in the process, along with people representing groups and workers involved in the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction. Others are a nurse, researcher, two practicing pharmacists and two practicing physicians. No more than six members can be of the same political party. The bill mandates the commission sunset after five years and 30 days. Reports should be submitted no more than one year after the effective date. Rules for the licensing of farmers must be promulgated a few months earlier than that. The legislation also stipulates that the medical marijuana program is to be fully operational within two years after the bill.

The Ohio Department of Commerce, State Medical Board and the Board of Pharmacy will all play a role. The Commerce Department will oversee the delivery of marijuana growers, processors and testing laboratories. The Pharmacy Board has licensed pharmacies involved and will register patients and their caregivers.  They will set up a hotline to take questions from patients and caregivers.  The Medical Board would issue licenses to physicians who recommend the treatment with medical marijuana.

medical marijuana

Jay Leiderman is a California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization Certified Criminal Law Specialist

Based upon the legislative passage of the medical marijuana program, the backers of a ballot initiative set to be voted on this November have withdrawn the measure.  At long last, progress has made its way to Ohio.  Let’s hope the program is successful and sick people get some of the valuable medicine they are so in need of.

The latest development

On 26 September 2016, the Ohio State MEdical Marijuana Board, described in detain above; dealt a blow to patients looking to begin accessing medication while the full regulations were being promulgated.  Now it looks like patients in need will have to wait until the Board is finished with all of their work before they may lawfully access their medicine.  This is yet another example of a State that isn’t familiar enough with what medical marijuana is, to the point where they will let people suffer while they get their act together.  See: Another Child Dies Waiting for Access to Medical Marijuana in New York.  Here is an excerpt from the Ohio article:

COLUMBUS — The State Medical Board of Ohio dealt a blow today to those who hoped they might be able to legally use medical marijuana before the state put its own system of growing and dispensing pot into place.

”A physician is not permitted to issue a state of Ohio approved written recommendation to use medical marijuana until the physician has obtained a certificate to recommend from the State Medical Board of Ohio,” the board advised Friday.

Such a written recommendation is necessary in order for a patient to be able to assert the “affirmative defense” provided under the new state law if the event a patient is caught in possession of cannabis before he or she can legally buy it from Ohio’s state-run system.

Update: 10 October 2016

A new panel is taking shape that will help guide Ohio agencies as they build a system of growing, testing, and dispensing marijuana for medical use.

The 14-member Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee — heavy on representation from central Ohio, including its chairman — will exist for five years to help the Ohio Pharmacy Board, State Medical Board, and Department of Commerce as those members create rules for a new medical cannabis industry.

The panel will be chaired by Curtis L. Passafume, Jr., of Hilliard near Columbus, vice president for pharmacy services at Ohio Health and a member of the state pharmacy board.

***

On the other hand, two days ago I published a post discussing the progress New York is making with their medical marijuana program.  See: “The Expansion of the Medical Marijuana Program in New York.”  One can only hope Ohio steps before too much damage is done.

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The Expansion of the Medical Marijuana Program in New York

Moving to address complaints about new medical marijuana program New York, the state’s Health Department is making significant changes in access to the drug, including making a home delivery program, very likely to expand by the end of October.

The program, which saw its first dispensaries opened in January, has struggled to gain broad traction in the medical community and with likely patients. Advocates for the medical use of marijuana have said the program, authorized by a 2014 law signed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, was too limited, and the regulations too clumsy to accomplish its mandate.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

JAY LEIDERMAN FREQUENTLY LECTURES ON MARIJUANA ISSUES IN VENTURA, CALIFORNIA, AROUND THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

New York opened its first medical cannabis dispensaries in January, joining 22 other states and Washington, DC, with medical marijuana programs. The program, which employs 7,000 certified patients and 20 dispensaries, is a far cry from that in states like California, which has hundreds of pharmacies and more than 750,000 medical marijuana cardholders.

The initial program only allowed doctors prescribe special training cannabis to patients with serious and terminal illnesses such as cancer, HIV and AIDS, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. Patients or their caregivers were required to buy to visit the state of the small handful of pharmacies cannabis products, including tinctures and capsules. Unlike all other states with medical marijuana programs, sparing perhaps Minnesota, portions of the law are seen as possible impediments to medical marijuana patients in New York, including prohibitions against smoking the plant.

Under the new measures, the state will allow nurse practitioners to qualify patients for medical use of marijuana and allow home delivery of the drug to patients too ill to visit a clinic. It will also increase financial assistance and consider a proposal to people suffering from chronic pain to get coverage under the revamped program. In the longer term, New York will review additional medical cannabis companies for the production and distribution of the drug. At this time, the number of companies is limited to five.

New York will also expand research into the use of the drug and medical benefits, said the health department. Alphonso David, Cuomo’s lawyer, said the state will carefully assess the need for more pharmacies because it makes other changes – such as allowing nurse practitioners to allow medical marijuana recipients – to ensure the transition is smooth. “We are expanding the program and it is vital that we do this in a thoughtful way,” he said. “We are focused on patient access. We must ensure that there is sufficient demand for increasing supply.”

In contrast to most other states

medical marijuana

Lawyer and author Jay Leiderman on medical marijuana law

and even other countries, New York program prohibits smoking marijuana, instead wherein the dispensing of the drug capsules or tinctures and oils which can be evaporated or used with an inhaler, commonly called “vaping.” Physicians must complete an online training prior authorization of the drug. Patients may not know which physicians have agreed to participate, making it difficult to access the program.

When he signed the program into law Cuomo said that New York needed “the right balance” between the treatment of patients and the need to protect public health and safety. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia now have medical marijuana programs. The entry of participants varies considerably from state to state. Michigan has 182,000 registered patients. Rhode Island, which has a population 1/20th of New York, has nearly 12,000.

A study from Columbia University Medical Center researchers this year found that enrollment is highest in the western states with older, less restrictive programs and lower in more recent ‘medicalized’ programs such as those in New York. Minnesota, which has a similar program with New York’s, has enrolled nearly 2,800 patients since its program began a year ago.

Legalize it, don’t criticize it.  Simplify it. 

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The Recent NSA Hack

You might have heard about the recent ongoing drama circling around the NSA hack that sparked a larger debate on the internet with regard to capabilities of US intelligence agencies, as well as stoked their own safety.

One Saturday in August came breaking news that a mysterious group of hackers calling themselves “The Shadow Brokers” claimed to have hacked an NSA-linked group and stole several NSA hacking tools with a promise to sell more private “cyber weapons” to the highest bidder.  This mysterious online group claimed to have stolen US “cyber weapons” of a hacking team named Comparison Group.  The claims have proven true.

The stolen hacking tools are used by the National Security Agency and the violation of its systems and tools led to a boast by the Shadow Brokers that it has access to a number of secret tools of the agency.  In the latest twist, the group is now selling copies of these tools online.

In a bizarre post written in broken English, the hackers said they had released 60 percent of the material they had and would release the additional 40 percent if they were paid 1 million bitcoin (currently worth more than $500 million). Forbes reported that its sources were saying the bitcoin auction was likely just an attempt to gain media attention.

“We want make sure Wealthy Elite recognizes the danger cyber weapons, this message, our auction, poses to their wealth and control. Let us spell out for Elites,” the group added. “Your wealth and control depends on electronic data.”

Here is what the hacking group said in its release of the files:

Q: Why I want auction files, why send bitcoin? A: If you like free files (proof), you send bitcoin. If you want know your networks hacked, you send bitcoin. If you want hack networks as like equation group, you send bitcoin. If you want reverse, write many words, make big name for self, get many customers, you send bitcoin. If want to know what we take, you send bitcoin.

Q: What if bid and no win, get bitcoins back? A: Sorry lose bidding war lose bitcoin and files. Lose Lose. Bid to win! But maybe not total loss. Instead to losers we give consolation prize. If our auction raises 1,000,000 (million) btc total, then we dump more Equation Group files, same quality, unencrypted, for free, to everyone.

Q: Why I trust you? A: No trust, risk. You like reward, you take risk, maybe win, maybe not, no guarantees. There could be hack, steal, jail, dead, or war tomorrow. You worry more, protect self from other bidders, trolls, and haters.

“Elites is making laws protect self and friends, lie and fuck other peoples,” the group continued in describing its apparent motivations for the hack. “Then Elites runs for president. Why run for president when already control country like dictatorship?”

“We want make sure Wealthy Elite recognizes the danger cyber weapons, this message, our auction, poses to their wealth and control. Let us spell out for Elites,” the group added. “Your wealth and control depends on electronic data.”

Foreign Policy laid out the evidence for why the release is being considered potentially legitimate and what exactly was taken:

The set of files available for free contains a series of tools for penetrating network gear made by Cisco, Juniper, and other major firms. Targeting such gear, which includes things like routers and firewalls, is a known tactic of Western intelligence agencies like the NSA, and was documented in the Edward Snowden files. Some code words referenced in the material Monday—BANANAGLEE and JETPLOW—match those that have appeared in documents leaked by Snowden. Security researchers analyzing the code posted Monday say it is functional and includes computer codes for carrying out espionage.

“Why did they do it? No one knows, but I suspect this is more diplomacy than intelligence, related to the escalation around the DNC hack,” Snowden wrote. “This leak is likely a warning that someone can prove US responsibility for any attacks that originated from this malware server.”

For more on this part of the story, see Slate’s piece on this hack.

NSA

The EFF have been strong critics of the NSA policies on spying upon Americans. Rise up against the surveillance state. Demand your right to privacy!

Here are the things you need to know about the fallout

“We will give you some free Equation Group Files,” the Shadow Brokers proclaimed in messages online that offer downloads for the code of the pilfered files. These include malware and hacking tools that are terrifying out in the open for anyone to use.  Gone are the days of security thanks to a lack of proper security by the NSA and it’s contractors.  Again (read: Edward Snowden).  The reason for this, the Shadow Brokers say, is to prove that the information was real and devastating before they sell out the rest of the NSA hacking instruments gathered in the hack. The Shadow Brokers also said the Equation Group “do not know what is lost” and would offer the group the hacking tools for a price, so it will not disclose the data.

“The first file contains close to 300MBs firewall exploits, tools and scripts under cryptonyms as BANANAUSURPER, BLATSTING, and BUZZ DIRECTION,” Kaspersky said in a detailed blog post. However, that post made clear that Kapersky saw file logs dated as far back as October 2013.

It is not quite known exactly what the group has access to, but it has a number of images of the files (and their structures) posted on social media. These are believed to come from the comparison group and is claimed to be a small part of what the Brokers have opened. Although messages on Pastebin, Tumblr, and Github have been removed, that still exists by the group on Twitter and Imgur.

Another hacker has claimed to have more of hacking tools stolen from the NSA.  According to another technical report published again by security firm Kaspersky Labs, the leaked sophisticated hacking tools include digital signatures that are identical to those in the hacking software and malware that have been previously used by the Equation Group.

“Although we have neither the identity or motivation of the attacker, nor where or how they came to be stolen treasure, we can say that a few hundred tools from the leak share a strong bond with our earlier findings from the Equation Group,” said Kaspersky researchers in a blog post. More than 300 computer files found in the online Shadow Brokers archive have a common implementation of RC5 and RC6 encryption algorithms – which are known to have been used extensively by the Equation Group.

There are more than 300 files in the archives of the Shadow Brokers

Also, the implementation of encryption algorithms is identical to the RC5 and RC6 code in the Equation Group malware. “There are more than 300 files in the archives of the Shadow Brokers,” who carry out this specific variant of RC6 in 24 different forms, wrote by the Kapersky researchers.  “The chance that these are fakes or manipulated is highly unlikely.”

The group ran a Bitcoin auction for some of the hacking tools it acquired. It is inviting “elites” with large amounts of cryptocurrency to bid on the unknown files. Once the auction is over, the Shadow Brokers says it will be decoded to provide the winner of the information to the rest of the files. “You bid against Equation Group, to win and to find out whether quotation pump price up, they piss off, everyone wins,” the shadow Brokers say in a deleted but cached Pastebin post.

The group ran a Bitcoin auction for some of the hacking tools it acquired

However, the Shadow Brokers group claims to be offering an additional inducement for those who offer and losses. “If our auction offers 1,000,000 (one million) BTC total, we dump more Equation Group files the same quality, unencrypted, free, for everyone,” it says. The million figure is unlikely to be achieved, however, in that the total number of Bitcoin presently in circulation is only 15m. It is made even more unlikely in that the Block Chain registers only the total so far 1.76139345 BTC. Presently, there are no facts divulged by the Shadow Brokers as to when the auction is due to the end.

The names of the hacking files were published, and it became clear that there have been a number of different actors who may have had a hand in the hacking tool leak.  What we know for sure is the Shadow Brokers were promoting the original source of the disclosure. On August 15, the group announced it had acquired an auction for the “cyber weapons” to the NSA.  It’s Tumblr account has since disappeared from the web, likewise have a number of messages on GitHub.

The identity of those working for the group, not surprisingly, has not been revealed. Snowden, in a flurry of Tweets, said the hacking of an NSA malware staging server is “unmatched.” He went on to say: “Circumstantial evidence and conventional wisdom gives Russian responsibility.”

Comments by Reuters suggested Russia would not be behind the theft of the hacking tools.  Analysis by James Bamford, a leading computer security writer, and journalist in the US said a “logical explanation” would put the incident in the hands of an insider.

If and when the auction comes to an end, there can be serious consequences. Whichever person or group wins the auction would present wide variables in terms of the disposition of the tools.  The outcome would be wildly different if an organization is connected to the NSA or any other cyber security institution bids could save the data; as an evil group wins it would take a more sinister turn.

“Without a doubt, they’re the keys to the kingdom,” said one former TAO employee to the Washington Post, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal operations. “The stuff you’re talking about would undermine the security of a lot of major government and corporate networks both here and abroad.”

Said a second former TAO hacker who saw the file: “From what I saw, there was no doubt in my mind that it was legitimate.”

“From what I saw, there was no doubt in my mind that it was legitimate.”

But wait, there’s more …

As of yesterday (3 October 2016) there were widespread reports like this: “No-one wants to buy the Shadow Brokers’ stolen NSA tools”

The Shadow Brokers have not had any significant offers to buy their trove of NSA hacking tools.  On Saturday, the group put up yet another Borat-esque rant, this one about its conclusion that “peoples is not thinking auction is being real” because “TheShadowBrokers is thinking this is information communication problem.” They went on: “Peoples is having interest in free files … But people is no interest in #EQGRP_Auction”  This is, no doubt, due to the fact that: “Equation Group is pwning you everyday, because you are giant fucking pussies.”  The Shadow Brokers also complained that “media no make big story” about them. At the time that Motherboard covered the auction’s lackluster progress – on Saturday, at 4 p.m. EST – the Shadow Brokers had received bids totaling only 1.76 bitcoins, or about $1,082.

 

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What are the Presidential Candidates’ Positions on Marijuana Legalization and on Medical Marijuana?

The chatter about cannabis has grown a little louder on the American campaign trail this election season.

The major party candidates, as well as so-called third party candidates have endorsed full legalization to full medical marijuana programs to more limited and restrictive programs to potential federal intervention.  Marijuana is a hot topic for many voters. Indeed there are a lot of “single issue voters” looking only at marijuana initiatives in the 9 states with medical or legalization measures on the ballot. Accordingly the nominees for the Democratic and Republican parties have broached the subject a lot, and it is a mainstay of the Green and Libertarian Party stump speeches.  Now that half of the states in the nation have laws related to medical marijuana in place, the topic is unavoidable. Marijuana isn’t just important to single issue voters in the 9 states with ballot measures.  It is also a topic of concern for those that live in states with already-existing medical or full legalization programs, as a new presidency may present new problems to established distribution methods in the states.  Moreover, given that the Federal Government has the last say on the issue under the 1971 Controlled Substances Act, the President could play a vital role moving forward. Marijuana is presently a Schedule 1 controlled, meaning it has no useful purpose and has a high potential for abuse.

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors ~ Plato

A report card guide to the views of presidential candidates on marijuana was developed by the Marijuana Policy Project. Two candidates have been given an A + rating, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Democrat Hillary Clinton got a B + and Republican Donald Trump got a C +, though his statements over time seem to contradict each other and bear close scrutiny.  The grades call for a closer examination of the issues.

Prior to the main discussion I want to make sure everyone that reads this votes for president.  Moreover, make sure every person you know votes for president.  Don’t just show up to vote on this one issue.  Here’s why.  Remember the days of the DEA and state “multi-jurisdictional” task forces were using para-military gear to take down grows and dispensaries?  I do.  And I don’t want those days back.  What’s the point of legalizing weed on the state level if the federal government is going to send troops into your state to wipe out thirty years of gains in legalization and medicalization?

Perhaps more critical to this equation is that there is an open Supreme Court seat.  As a lawyer, I can say that the candidates Trump said he would consider were terrifying as they relate to controlled substances.  These are the types of people that believe in reefer madness.  Clinton has not talked about who she would appoint, but the candidate will be more cannabis-friendly.  When compared to Trump’s nominee list, how can they not be?  Of course, Trump can deviate from his list of nominees and pick another nominee.  A new Supreme Court Justice can affect drug policy for decades.

Just as important is who will be our next Attorney General and our next head of the DEA.  Keep this in mind while going through the post.

I start with the lower-graded candidates and work my way to the A + candidates.

Donald Trump

GOP candidate Donald Trump received a C + from the MMP largely for his claims that he supports legal access to medical marijuana, and he believes that the Medical States should be able to set their own marijuana policies regarding use by adults. He has also spoken negatively of adult cannabis use, a seeming contradiction to his statement to Fox that: “I know people who have serious problems and they did that they really – [medical marijuana] really help them.”  I discuss his position in greater detail than the rest of the candidates because his position is more complex and less certain than any other candidate.

medical marijuana

What happened to 1990 Trump’s enlightened positions on drug treatment and legalization?

Looking historically, there is precedent for thinking Trump would not waste resources enforcing drug laws. During a luncheon hosted by the Miami Herald in April 1990 he actually advocated for full-legalization in a speech about how we need to take back the drug trade from the Kingpins and as direct benefits we will see the violence and other collateral issues will subsist.  As a businessman, 1990 Trump was a pragmatist.  If you can make money on the sale and then the inevitable treatment, win-win.  Right?  If, in the process, you lower the murder rate and save police resources, even better.

Well, this rhetoric is long past for Trump and if you wanted to hear it from any candidate you’ll have to wait until you hit the Gary Johnson section below.  Trump, and Clinton as well, seem to view medical marijuana and legalization as two different children entirely and Trump favors one child immensely.

“Marijuana is such a big thing,” Trump said. “I think medical should happen — right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.”

“I would say (the regulation of marijuana) is bad. Medical marijuana is another thing, but I think it’s bad and I feel strongly about that… (Moderator: “What about the legal aspect of the States”) If they for vote it, they vote for it… But I think, medical marijuana, 100%. ”

But Trump himself has used some hard language when speaking of legalization and adult use: When asked about Colorado, his response was disheartening:“I think it’s bad and I feel strongly about it. They’ve got a lot of problems going on right now in Colorado, some big problems.”

“I think it’s bad and I feel strongly about it. They’ve got a lot of problems going on right now in Colorado, some big problems.”

Worse yet, now Trump is already using his close friend Chris Christie as his White House transitional leader – – and the idea of Christie as Attorney General is not so far-fetched.   The New Jersey Governor responded to questions about medical marijuana negatively throughout his 8 years as governor, and I would presume he will be very influential in terms of Trump’s criminal justice policy, and with that, Trump’s drug policy.  After all, Christie is a former prosecutor and United States Attorney.  Speaking a year ago about whether a potential President Christie would enforce federal drug laws in states that have passed legalization measures an emphatic Christie said: “Absolutely. I will crack down and not permit it.”

Perhaps it is unfair to judge Trump solely by his association with Christie, but that is the only evidence we have before us.  One has to ask: What type of Attorney General would Trump pick?

In fairness to Trump’s position on legalization, in anther interview Trump said of adult legal use that he does support states’ rights to legalize, saying, a second time several months later: “If they vote for it, they vote for it.”  So twice he has said that he would respect state’s rights.  State’s rights are a big issue for REpublicans and it is a good bet Trump would think twice before invoking federal supremacy – – except possibly for this issue.  Republicans, generally speaking, are not fans of marijuana.

Trump has been inconsistent and inconsistent van be very dangerous.   Those of us that remember frequent pre-Obama DEA raids on dispensaries want some degree of certainty.

Coming back to medical use, Trump has said that he supports medical cannabis “100 percent.”  What that would actually mean in a Trump world is unclear.  His closeness to Christie, who held back progress for New Jersey’s program for years, concerns me. 100% could mean a limited and constrained program.  Small limits.  A small number of conditions will be covered.

What if the Federal Government, with a heavy-handed new Attorney General, decides to make marijuana eradication and medical regulation an issue?  What would a Federal medical marijuana program look like – – and how many patients currently benefitting from medicalization would be shut out?

These issues may be theoretical and may never come to pass.  But I’d rather have you theorize than get caught by surprise.

 

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton, 45 minutes after being served the best brownie she has ever had.

It’s not good that two days ago this was the headline: Chelsea Clinton Walks Back Remarks Suggesting Marijuana Can Be Deadly.

The good news, however, is that Clinton’s mother, candidate Hillary Clinton, has shown a willingness to evolve her position over time.  In 2007, she was against any type of decriminalization (so says CNN).  Now, Hillary Clinton has expressed support for legal access to medical marijuana and endorses more research into the medical benefits of marijuana. In 2014, when asked, she said that she approved of the legalization laws in Colorado and Washington. She said “states are the laboratories of democracy” (she has made that statement part of her official marijuana platform) and that she wants to see what happens in those States prior to taking a position in support or against such laws.  More importantly, she has also said that she believes the drug should be rescheduled from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2, a critical distinction which would open the door for unfettered research and greater access to patients. Her platform indicates that she thinks that the United States now needs to be supported to move in that direction, and she absolutely supports all countries that are moving towards medical marijuana, moving toward – absolutely – legalizing it for adult recreational use. 

Most likely a Clinton Presidency would show little or no change from Obama’s wait-and-see approach.  That is very settling in some narrow respects.  DEA enforcement and funding for marijuana prosecutions has dropped to nearly nil in the wake of Obama’s approach.  If the DEA will stay off of Humboldt hillsides and LA dispensaries that’s actual progress, however slow and behind the times it is that progress may be.  Under Obama’s approach, those waiting to enforce anti-marijuana laws may simply die of boredom waiting for something to do, creating a de facto legalization of sorts.

The Democratic Party has actually endorsed a pathway to legalization.  The Republican Party has not.

The Republican argument that Clinton would be a third term of Obama works here when contrasted solely with Trump, who could pose a potential threat to the adult enjoyment of recreational marijuana, should those measures pass.  Hands off is better than hands on.

A recent poll found that 43% of “cannabis professionals” (I don’t know what “cannabis professional” means and they didn’t say) supported Clinton, 26% were for Trump, and 16% for Johnson. 10% were undecided.  Votes for Vermin Supreme were not tabulated.   Jill Stein was not offered as a choice.  I don’t know how that should influence your choice, but I find it interesting that in a profession that is openly in love with Jill Stein and Gary Johnson (in California, at least), when asked to actually cast their ballot, the business side chose Clinton.

This may be the reason: The Democratic Party has actually endorsed a pathway to legalization.  The Republican Party has not.

Update: 10 October 2016; from the Wikileaks release of speeches that Clinton gave to Wall Street executives.

During an on-stage Q & A session with Xerox’s chairman and CEO in March 2014, Clinton used Wall Street terminology to express her opposition to ending cannabis prohibition “in all senses of the word”:

URSULA BURNS: So long means thumbs up, short means thumbs down; or long means I support, short means I don’t. I’m going to start with — I’m going to give you about ten long-shorts…So legalization of pot?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Short in all senses of the word.

This position is entirely consistent with what is described above.  Do not expect Hillary Clinton to push for legalization on a federal level.  If anything is going to happen with respect to marijuana at the federal level, it is most likely to occur under Obama in the lame duck (post election) session.  Moreover, if anything happens, it will likely be a simple rescheduling from 1 to 2.  Other than that, I suppose the best that can be said is that at least Clinton will not disturb the states that legalize recreational use.  I wouldn’t bet on that in a Trump administration.

 

Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson supports full legalization of drugs

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has endorsed Gary Johnson for president. Johnson received an A + rating and offers his full support for legalizing and regulating marijuana for medical and recreational use by adults. He supports legalizing marijuana at the federal level.  He supports the removal of the federal drug scheduling of marijuana altogether. Moreover, he would cede control of individual implementation to the “several states” – to use a constitutional term affirmed by 9th amendment jurisprudence.  He endorsed state legalization ballot initiatives and regulation of marijuana for adults in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. The former governor has openly discussed his personal use of medical marijuana and he has served as CEO of a medical marijuana business before having to resign to become a candidate for President.  No wonder MPP loves him.  If you’re a single issue voter Johnson is your candidate, as this issue seems to be his issue.

 

Dr. Jill Stein

Dr. Jill Stein also received an A + rating for her support for legalizing and regulating marijuana for medical use nationwide by adults.  She said:

“As a doctor and public health advocate, people ask me all the time if marijuana is dangerous. Yes, marijuana is dangerous – Because it is illegal, it is not dangerous in itself; it is certainly less harmful than alcohol and tobacco, which are perfectly legal…The real danger of marijuana is the violence of the underground drug economy created by the ban.

“Legalizing marijuana will end violence, as well as ending alcohol prohibition ended the violence of illegal alcohol economy?

Yes, marijuana is dangerous – Because it is illegal

“It is time to take marijuana off the black market, end crime and violence associated with marijuana trafficking, stop wasting money and ruined lives by prosecuting victims crime, reducing prison population, increasing tax revenue, let sick people their medicine, let farmers grow marijuana and hemp, and give responsible adults their freedom by legalizing it!

“As President, one of my first actions would be to order the DEA and the Justice Department to cease all attempts to harass or prosecute medical marijuana clinics or other legitimate marijuana-related businesses operating under state laws.

“I would also direct the DEA to move marijuana from Schedule 1, to remove it from the most dangerous category of drugs, and place it in a more appropriate category, as determined by medical science.  Like Colorado, we can regulate marijuana in the same way as alcohol.

“This would prevent billions of dollars in profits pouring into the black market, and would greatly reduce the violence associated with illegal marijuana sales, including the drug wars plaguing Mexico and Central America.

“Make no mistake, ending marijuana prohibition would be a huge victory for freedom and social justice, and an important step towards the fair, Green future we deserve to be.”

Single issue voters can no doubt agree with her rhetoric.

Conclusion

Clearly, to single issue voters, Stein and Johnson are appealing.  In states where a few per cent of the vote  can tip all the electoral votes one way or another, it may be more important to think about who will be ordering the DEA around; who will be our next Attorney General.  Think about it.

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IN CASE ANYONE NEEDED TO KNOW MY OPINION ON THE MATTER (OR WANTED TO CHECK FOR BIAS):  Legalize it, don’t criticize it!

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