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Home | 2016 | May

At the court of the Sun Queen

Posted by Thersites on UTC 2016-05-28 09:37.

Let's leave undiscussed all the fascinating details that are coming out about Hillary Clinton's relationships with computers during her time as US Secretary of State.

Our latest insight into the world of the US administration (here and here ) is worth a few moments' consideration. It seems that Hillary Clinton had been able to rise to the elevated Government position of Secretary of State without being capable of even turning a computer on, let alone using it. She used her BlackBerry as a networking device and let assistants do the grafting on their computers.

She was averse to acquiring such basic skills as entering a username and password, unlike the millions of wage-slaves in the world who have to acquire this skill on their first day. She was banned by the NSA from using her beloved [non-government] BlackBerry in her office, so would stand in the corridor to message and email.

Her underlings finally set up two computers for her, one in her office and one in her assistant's office and connected them not to the official Government network but to a public network.

Her email system was run from a personal server installed somewhere with an email domain obscurely named 'clintonemail.com' – ISIS will never get that one. We have known for some time that this server was completely insecure; we now find out that the two computers she was running in the State Department were not even protected by a password. We can be sure that much worse will come to light in the next few weeks as the depositions of her underlings are taken one by one.

Hillary Clinton seems to be the very model of an intellectually lazy, incompetent autocrat, used to having unquestioning underlings on hand to do her bidding. 'Tell us something we don't know', you bellow at your innocent computer monitor.

A courtier speaks

The affair has serious aspects that go far beyond the single idiot at its centre: the incumbents of high political office in the USA can surround themselves with high-level serfs who see their role just as enablers, no contradictions offered, no contrary advice given, no devil's advocacy, no scruples raised, no uncomfortable questions asked. We saw this all those years ago in the Watergate scandal. Today's specimen underling is Ambassador Lewis Lukens.

We may talk about underlings, but this man, now addressed with the respectful title 'Ambassador', has had a 27 year career in the US Foreign Service:

I've served in Southern China; in the Ivory Coast; in Sydney, Australia; in Dublin, Ireland; in Baghdad; Vancouver, British Columbia; Dakar, Senegal; and three tours in Washington, D.C., as well as my current position in San Francisco.

When Hillary's problems with her BlackBerry and her general computer aversion are raised with him, he and the other staff just apply outrageous fixes in violation of all regulations. Here is the ambassador explaining why his queen could not possibly use a departmental computer on the government network:

Q ... do you know why Mrs. Clinton needed a computer that would have been different from the standard computer?

A Well, again, my thinking at the time was by having a standalone computer, she wouldn't have to log on through our OpenNet system, which can be quite cumbersome and slow.

Q It requires more passwords?

A Correct.

Q Approximately -- when you sat down at your computer every day, did you have an OpenNet system on your computer?

A Yes.

Q If you were to access the Internet, do you recall how many passwords you would have to enter before being able to use the Internet?

A It's -- well, it's one password but it has to be changed frequently.

Q How often does it have to be changed?

A Seems like every week, but I think it's every -- it's every eight or 12 weeks.

Q Probably too many times. And so the system that was set up -- or that you proposed setting up on Mrs. Clinton's desk, she would not have had to change her password every eight to 12 weeks?

A She wouldn't have had a password.

Q So the computer would have just been open and be able to use without going through any security features?

A Correct.

So all this was done to save Her Majesty the trouble of remembering passwords. Bless!

He would have done her Majesty a better service if he had categorically told her to follow the rules because, sooner or later, the deceit would blow up in all their faces. But then, you don't get to be a courtier of the Clinton court, an ambassador, no less, with nearly thirty years of postings around the world, one of the thousands of political appointments in the US, by opposing your Queen. Twenty-seven years of high-level experience count as nothing in that situation.

That Freedom of Information thing

Ambassador Lukens and his staff set up a computer system for government business that was not only complete insecure, it was also out of scope for enquiries under the Freedom of Information Act. Some conspiracy theorists have seen this second feature as being the motivating factor in setting it up.

Now we are beginning to hear the astonishing level of incompetence behind the system that was established can anyone really believe that the people involved, given their obvious intellectual deficits, were capable of such Machiavellian dances?