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Electronic Burglary in the Senate

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  • The goods (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2004 @11:55AM (#8055242)

    Microsoft backs the Republicans.

    Microsoft shares exploit with the Republicans.

    Democrats get sodomized.

    Fuhrer Bush and Reichstag Security Head Ashcroft smile.

    You KNOW it's true because it's on slashdot!

    • by burgburgburg (574866) <splisken06@email . c om> on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:26PM (#8055702)
      Microsofties are usually the last ones to know about exploits. They find out about exploits even after kids hanging around Radio Shack in hopes of being considered 1337 have already grown tired of them.

      • by caseydk (203763) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @02:18PM (#8057197) Homepage Journal

        Microsoft is also in the top 10 contributors to the Democratss this year with Kerry & Dean receiving the most significant portions of it.

        Part of the story is left out of the Globe article... it's pretty widely believed on the Hill that this "unauthorized access" was a purposeful sharing of the information by authorized individuals.
  • by arodland (127775) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @11:55AM (#8055244)
    That's why I'm a... damn!
  • by supersnail (106701) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @11:56AM (#8055256)
    W@tergate ??
  • by gekkotron (641131) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @11:57AM (#8055264) Journal
    So I misread that as "Electronic Buggery in the Senate".
  • by stanmann (602645) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @11:57AM (#8055267) Journal
    If the files were supposed to be confidential, shouldn't they have been protected?

    And if the Republicans are hackers doesn't that mean we should be supporting them??

    Since information wants to be free and all.
    • by shaka999 (335100) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:02PM (#8055341)
      If I leave the door to my house unlocked it isn't an invitation for people to come in. It may be dumb but anyone coming in is still trespassing.
      • Duh (Score:4, Interesting)

        by metroid composite (710698) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:30PM (#8055758) Homepage Journal
        It's also trespassing if you walk onto someone's lawn. Granted, nobody should care, and you wouldn't call the cops unless some total stranger starts throwing a barbeque or something.

        Still, I've lived for brief periods of time in towns where nobody locks their doors. I don't think it's dumb at all that this is treaspassing; most people wouldn't care if you randomly wandered in for a friendly chat, but they have the right to toss you out if you're being a bastard, and a right to their privacy.

    • by wwest4 (183559) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:04PM (#8055376)
      not everyone on /. adheres to that juvenile interpretation of the hacker ethos.

      besides, this isn't the same. if you correctly interpret the 2600 definition of hacking, the GOP folks should have disclosed the security vulnerability, not exploited it for their own benefit.
      • by Lordrashmi (167121) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:08PM (#8055453)
        According to the article, the Republicans claim to have informed the Democrats about it along time ago. However, the Democrats say they were never told.

        Since both parties are stinkin liars, I don't think you can believe either story.
        • by sg3000 (87992) * <.sg_public. .at. .mac.com.> on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:23PM (#8055667)
          > the Republicans claim to have informed the Democrats
          > about it along time ago.

          Reminds me of that scene in the Simpsons when Bart and Lisa are arguing about hockey. Bart starts swinging his arms saying, "I'm going to swing my arms like this, and if you get hit, it's your own fault".

          Simple point: these Republicans had no business digging through anyone's files. Saying, "oh, by the way, we've got access to some stuff that you don't want us to see. Hope you fix your security breach soon, or we're liable to dig through your stuff again!" isn't much of an excuse.

          Unless these Republicans would like us to just assume from now on that they have no ethics and act accordingly.
    • by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:08PM (#8055435) Journal
      Since information wants to be free and all.

      Source code wants to be free (or so thinks 95% of the /. readership -- disclaimer: I'm part of that 95%), but I think you'd take an entirely different approach when you start talking about private memos.

      If I access your computer and steal your private journals or letters to your sweetheart and leak them to the media is that "freeing information"? And don't go saying that they deserved it because it wasn't password protected (according to the article the techie neglected to put a password on the documents) -- if I steal handwritten letters to/from your sweatheart out of an unlocked filing cabinet does that make it ok?

      The truely disgusting part about all of this is that the "Liberally-biased media" (in the eyes of Fox News and all the Conservative pundits) probably won't even pick up on this -- think we'll be seeing this on CNN or MSNBC anytime soon? I doubt it. Imagine the uproar if the Dems got caught doing something like this....

      • by gfxguy (98788) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @01:05PM (#8056250)
        That's bullshit. I agree it was wrong, but where's the consistency when it comes to anybody else.. diebold, the MS halloween memos... all supposed to be internal memos that were leaked.

        We all cheered then, didn't we?
        • by melquiades (314628) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @02:02PM (#8056997) Homepage
          True, but:
          • it was publicly disclosed that they were leaked -- Slashdot didn't steal the memo and then secretly use it to undermine Microsoft -- and
          • more importantly, the Microsoft memos weren't leaked due to a security exploit -- they were leaked, not stolen -- and
          • the programming community hasn't made any secret about exploits in Microsoft's security when they are found.
          The Republicans' responsibility was to report the security breach, and to not exploit it regardless of whether it was fixed. (Leaving your door unlocked may be stupid, but it does not make it legal or ethical for others to steal your things.)

          This incident is really quite different from the Halloween Memo; it's much more akin to Cliton allegedy breaching the FBI files of political enemies. IMO, that would actually have been a valid foundation for an impeachment case ... and so would this.
    • by andy1307 (656570) * on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:10PM (#8055484)
      And if the Republicans are hackers

      I know this is /. and you probably didn't read RTFA but there was no hacking. The technician screwed up.

      • by ericspinder (146776) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:35PM (#8055830) Journal
        Just because it was easy, it doesn't mean that they are not crackers (or hackers, whatever). If I steal a candy bar from a store with an inattentive clerk, that doesn't mean that I am any less of a criminal.

        Some people consider this to be like Watergate, but I see it as far worse. The original Watergate crime was a single breakin relating to a political campain, this has to do with private internal discussion of Senators about matters of government. Ok, sure there might have been some real partisan politics mixed in, but the Republican staffers would have had to wade through a lot of messages to get to the parts they wanted to publish. I don't think that it's treason, but it's damn near.

    • by mikerich (120257) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:11PM (#8055500)
      If the files were supposed to be confidential, shouldn't they have been protected?

      Perhaps they employ the same security consultants as Valve software?

      Best wishes,
      Mike.

    • Another thing.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by andy1307 (656570) * on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:17PM (#8055598)
      The computer glitch dates to 2001, when Democrats took control of the Senate after the defection from the GOP of Senator Jim Jeffords, Independent of Vermont.

      A technician hired by the new judiciary chairman, Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, apparently made a mistake that allowed anyone to access newly created accounts on a Judiciary Committee server shared by both parties -- even though the accounts were supposed to restrict access only to those with the right password.

      Does this mean the party that controls the senate gets to hire the technician who manages the servers? Am i the only one who sees a problem with that?

    • by rifter (147452) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:46PM (#8055976) Homepage

      If the files were supposed to be confidential, shouldn't they have been protected?

      And if the Republicans are hackers doesn't that mean we should be supporting them??

      Since information wants to be free and all.

      You are probably trying to be funny, but what is not funny about this is if these computers were cracked by one of us and not a Republican staffer, these same Republicans would be howling for blood and nailing asses to walls. This is complete and total bullshit. There was a security problem that could be fixed and the Dems did not fix it. But the Republicans cracked their computers and shared confidential information. They broke the DMCA and several other anti-cracker laws in the process. Someone pointed out that the Dems have pulled this kind of thing as well, but two wrongs do not make a right. The staffers should be treated just as any other civilian would be in this case. And the Dem admin who refused to patch the machine should be fired and investigated to see if s/he is not part of this on the sly.

      Some choice points from this article:

      As the extent to which Democratic communications were monitored came into sharper focus, Republicans yesterday offered a new defense. They said that in the summer of 2002, their computer technician informed his Democratic counterpart of the glitch, but Democrats did nothing to fix the problem.

      Other staffers, however, denied that the Democrats were told anything about it before November 2003.

      He said, she said. Regardless of the truth, the Republicans had no right to crack computers just because the potential for exploitation was there. Republican prosecutors and judges would never accept this as a defense for a cracking case, in fact they would laugh as they sent Mr. Cracker off to Federal Pound-Me-In-The-Ass Prison and have done so repeatedly in similar cases. A cracker who informs his/her target of the potential exploit before using it to break into a computer is never afforded any kind of legal protection.

      Reached at home, Miranda said he is on paternity leave; Frist's office said he is on leave "pending the results of the investigation" -- he denied that any of the handwritten comments on the memos were by his hand and said he did not distribute the memos to the media. He also argued that the only wrongdoing was on the part of the Democrats -- both for the content of their memos, and for their negligence in placing them where they could be seen.

      "There appears to have been no hacking, no stealing, and no violation of any Senate rule," Miranda said. "Stealing assumes a property right and there is no property right to a government document. . . . These documents are not covered under the Senate disclosure rule because they are not official business and, to the extent they were disclosed, they were disclosed inadvertently by negligent [Democratic] staff."

      Again, bollocks. These were confidential memos which were clearly meant only for their recipients, just like all office memos and business emails are. And I love the blame-the-victim here, where they try to put the blame on the Dems for having an exploitable computer. So by placing their confidential memos on a machine that can be cracked, they are in fact releasing this info to the public with no intellectual property rights (like copyright) asserted? Really? So if I crack the TIA computers that means the Republicans released the information for free into the public domain? The Microsoft Source that was stolen is actually legal, free, and clear? Can I get an affidavit from John Ashcroft to this effect?

      All this adds up to prove that the Republicans' vaunted belief in the rule of law is complete bullshit. The party has been taken over by outlaws who seem to think the law does not apply to them. The fact that this kind of cracking can occur at the highest levels of government with NO investigation into prosecution leads directly to a determination of gross negligence on the part of Bush, since he is teh top cop in the country and it is his job to make sure the laws are enforced and obeyed, especially by the staff of his party members.

  • Patriot Act (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mkarolow (527474) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @11:57AM (#8055271) Homepage
    Let's see how they like "terrorism" charges brought aginst themselvs.
  • After all, the Democrats were against the war, and thusly terrorist sympathizers!

    We are exactly 20 years off on our calendar.
  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Thursday January 22, 2004 @11:59AM (#8055302) Homepage Journal
    As the extent to which Democratic communications were monitored came into sharper focus, Republicans yesterday offered a new defense. They said that in the summer of 2002, their computer technician informed his Democratic counterpart of the glitch, but Democrats did nothing to fix the problem.

    While it sounds like the Dems' tech guy is missing his distro of Clue, I wonder... what if he/she left the backdoor open on purpose?

    Here's a scenario:

    1. Repo tech tells Demo tech about security problem.
    2. Demo tech realizes that any security breach could bite the Repos in the butt if discovered.
    3. Optional: Tech tells Demo leadership about the plan.
    4. Demo tech keeps an eye on traffic through the breach, letting the Repos pull info until...
    5. ... they get caught with both hands in the honey pot.

    Step 3 is optional because it assumes cluefulness on the part of political leadership, which I wouldn't want to assume. But there are some tech-savvy members of Congress (surely!) who might understand the honeypot concept.
    • by Wingchild (212447) <brian@wingchild.net> on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:04PM (#8055383) Homepage
      Step 3 is optional because it assumes cluefulness on the part of political leadership, which I wouldn't want to assume. But there are some tech-savvy members of Congress (surely!) who might understand the honeypot concept.

      I worked down in the Pentagon for two and a half years. I thought I had a really good grip on political machinations, having read a lot of polysci theory and having always been marginally decent at manipulating people. When I got down to Arlington I realized that the political power players are like sharks in a vast tank full of guppies.

      I couldn't even believe the level of shit that people were capable of doing, willing to do, and doing every day to advance their careers and positions. A clever honeypot trick like this wouldn't be a wondrous masterstroke to top off someone's career - it'd be a move executed before they finished breakfast!

      Sometimes I'm really upset by our divisive and angry Two Party System; it seems like nothing ever gets done. Other times I am very, very grateful that the government is not one gigantic unified son of a bitch, because then all those manipulative, controlling and totally evil tendencies would be aimed squarely at me.

      Having clearly marked opponents gives them something to aim for and exert their energy upon.
    • by ajagci (737734) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @01:20PM (#8056442)
      While it sounds like the Dems' tech guy is missing his distro of Clue, I wonder... what if he/she left the backdoor open on purpose?

      I fail to see what difference it would make. Whether the Democrats laid a trap or not, the Republicans would have still violated computer fraud statutes and behaved unethically.

      The Republican behavior would be particularly reprehensible because they keep running on "values" and "ethics". Unlike blow jobs in the White House, which are amusing but otherwise irrelevant, stealing political strategy memos is something that cuts to the heart of ethics in politics. If these allegations are confirmed, they would show the people involved to be completely unethical, and I would hope they'd get thrown in jail for it and barred from public office.
  • heh. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wingchild (212447) <brian@wingchild.net> on Thursday January 22, 2004 @11:59AM (#8055306) Homepage
    In DC, this is called `Business As Usual`.

    Skip from this incident of Republicans spying back to the years during the Clinton White House, wherein the FBI was found to have pulled confidential files on tons of prominent Republicans and provided that information (quite illegally).

    Quick link to info on Filegate [judicialwatch.org]

    Quick summary for people who don't remember 1998: "[There was a] class action suit on behalf of the more than 900 Bush and Reagan appointees and possibly others whose FBI files were unlawfully obtained by the Clinton White House. Louis Freeh, Director of the FBI, has admitted that there was an "egregious violation of privacy without justification."

    It goes around, it comes around, Watergate wasn't the first time, and this isn't the last time.

    Politics.

    feh.
    • Re:heh. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cyclist1200 (513080) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:15PM (#8055568) Homepage
      Ah. I see. Because it's commonly done by both parties, that makes it okay, and we can just ignore it.
    • by reverendG (602408) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:17PM (#8055588) Homepage
      Louis Freeh, the source that you're quoting authoritatively, is also the FBI Director who misallocated funds and agents to investigate Clinton's WhiteWater scandals.

      In case you weren't familiar with those, the WhiteWater scandals were shown to be completely baseless. As a matter of fact, several independent government agencies acquitted the Clintons of wrongdoing from the very beginning. Despite this, Freeh continuned to play up to his Republican buddies in Congress.

      While we're meditating on this era, let's remember the outrageous scandals that neo-conservatives used to ruin a great presidency.
  • Criminal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Albanach (527650) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:00PM (#8055312) Homepage
    In the UK, this would be a breach of the computer misuse act and could land them with a jail sentence.

    In the US, however, doesn't this make them terrorists and entitled to a free, one way, all expenses paid trip to Cuba? [navy.mil]

  • by L. VeGas (580015) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:00PM (#8055319) Homepage Journal
    Further investigation reveals that the Democrats were using Usenet for their correspondence.
  • by ewg (158266) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:02PM (#8055347)

    They should have used Digital Rights Management:

    Ideological opponents: ( ) Allow (+) Deny

  • Grr! (Score:5, Funny)

    by CaptainAlbert (162776) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:03PM (#8055348) Homepage
    Stop spoiling my well-ingrained stereotype of republicans as slack-jawed rednecks who couldn't crack into a nut, let alone a computer! How can this be? :)
  • Way to go GOP! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:03PM (#8055351) Journal
    Preach one thing, practise another!

    Tell everyone that you're all for fair play, an even playing field for everyone but then read other people's confidential memos to gain an unfair advantage. How sleazy is that?

    I wonder what Republicans who thought Bill Clinton getting a blowjob was worthy of impeachment have to say about Senators and their staffs committing crimes punishable by up to a year in prison?
    • Re:Way to go GOP! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:25PM (#8055696) Journal

      Tell everyone that you're all for fair play, an even playing field for everyone but then read other people's confidential memos to gain an unfair advantage. How sleazy is that?

      I wonder what Republicans who thought Bill Clinton getting a blowjob was worthy of impeachment have to say about Senators and their staffs committing crimes punishable by up to a year in prison?

      Wow, you say something I can agree with for once!

      They won't think anything of it. You might have some real outrage from the handful of decent Republicans in the Senate (McCain, Snowe, Collins all come to mind), but the party establishment itself (which was taken over by the Southern religious right wing a long time ago) won't say a damn thing.

      It's the same level of hypocrisy they use when they all fall in behind George-I-was-too-busy-snorting-crack-to-report-for -my-National-Guard-duty W. Bush, but bash McCain (or other Patriots like Senator Cleland) as being "unpatrotic". They actually ran attack ads against Cleland linking him to Bin Ladin -- the man lost three of his limbs in Vietnam! Yet how dare we criticize Bush for snorting crack and avoiding the war (not to mention his DWI) -- he's the President after all and you need to respect the office.

      Hell, since I'm ranting, let's talk about yelling at the Dems for "blocking" Bush's nominates when the vast majority of them have been confirmed (rubber-stamped is more like it). The Democrats in the Senate have been a whole lot nicer to Dubya then the Republicans ever were to Clinton -- much to my dismay.

      There are a few decent Republicans (mostly in the Northeast where they actually still stand for fiscal responsibility and haven't been taken over by the religious right) -- but they are few and far between -- and I won't vote for any Republican for Federal Office until they expunge the Southern Religious Right from the party. Which is really too bad because there are actually a few Republicans that I like and am in a position to vote for -- I hope Giuliani run's for Governor of NY and not the Senate seat open in 04. It'd kill me to have to vote against him, but I would because we can't allow the Republicans to continue to control the Federal Government.

  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:07PM (#8055424) Homepage Journal
    A technician hired by the new judiciary chairman, Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, apparently made a mistake that allowed anyone to access newly created accounts on a Judiciary Committee server shared by both parties -- even though the accounts were supposed to restrict access only to those with the right password.

    That's about all the article says about the "glitch" that occurred, presumably due to human error. At first I thought the account was probably M$ Windows related, since it is would be harder with Linux/UNIX to "accidentally" create accounts which were accessible to anybody.

    But then, the technician could have done anything stupid like assigning the easily guessable password across to all accounts. Or who knows, maybe they were using a database system or other software which created accounts on top of the OS.

    A little more information about the OS/software in use would certainly shed more light on who was actually responsible for the glitch...instead of blaming it outright on the technician.

  • Clueless media (Score:5, Insightful)

    by andy1307 (656570) * on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:08PM (#8055439)
    a computer glitch [reference.com]

    A technician hired by the new judiciary chairman, Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, apparently made a mistake

    That wasn't a computer malfunction. The computer and the software worked exactly like the way they were supposed to work.

  • Novak again? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sg3000 (87992) * <.sg_public. .at. .mac.com.> on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:10PM (#8055479)
    > Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary
    > Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year,
    > monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically
    > passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The
    > Globe.

    > Novak is also at the center of an investigation into who
    > leaked the identity of a CIA agent whose husband
    > contradicted a Bush administration claim about Iraqi
    > nuclear programs.

    So, Novak leaks the name of a CIA operator for political gain to hide the fact that Bush lied about Iraq trying to buy uranium for nuclear weapons. Then he blows the cover of a CIA front operation to further his story. Why isn't this guy in jail?

    More importantly, some Republicans keep doing crazy stuff like this. We still don't know which "senior Bush official" leaked the info to Novak, and Bush seems uninterested to find out who committed this crime. The Republicans have been desperate to bury Watergate's effect on their image, but stuff like makes it alive and well.
    • Re:Novak again? (Score:4, Informative)

      by YellowBook (58311) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @01:39PM (#8056678) Homepage
      Why isn't this guy in jail?

      It's actually probably legal for Novak to have published that information. However, it's certainly illegal for whoever leaked that information to have leaked it to him.

      The reason no one is going to jail for this is that the person responsible for investigating this, the Attorney General, is appointed by the person whose office was responsible for the leak. And though Ashcroft has recused himself, the people directly and ultimately responsible for the investigation are both presidential appointees.

      This is why we need an Independent Counsel law. Unfortunately, after the multi-year investigation of Clinton's penis, the Democrats in Congress were happy to let the law lapse (and the Republicans had never supported it, though they were glad to be able to take advantage of it while it lasted).

  • by ausoleil (322752) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:12PM (#8055509) Homepage
    Let's assume for a moment that Senators and/or their staffers were illegally accessing systems that they were not supposed to be gaining entry to.

    Using the same Draconian laws that they themselves enacted, these people could end up serving hard time for their deeds, losing their rights to privacy, vote and carry a gun. That and losing their jobs and pensions, not to mention medical benefits, etc. In other words, as felons, they become no-ones.

    That to me, is the definition of irony.
  • by clueless123 (643205) * on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:14PM (#8055555)
    You got'a love it! when anyone else looks at files they should not be looking at, it is "criminal hacking" when they look at the same stuff it is called "glitch" :)))
  • by deanc (2214) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:23PM (#8055671) Homepage
    This is the political equivalent of an insider trading scandal or other form of corporate crime. Those who care about the law want it to be prosecuted to its full extent. However, everyday people look at corporate crooks or corrupt Republicans stealing Democratic memos off the network and think, "Damn! I wish I had gotten away with that!"

    In this situation, the Republicans come away looking like the sly rogues who "got away with it," and the Democrats look like beleasguered victims... and at the end of the day, most people would rather be the victimizers than the victims, and thus will identify with the Republicans.
  • The law & Prison (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fudgefactor7 (581449) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:23PM (#8055675)
    The law is, if it's meant to be secure (whether or not it actually is being immaterial) then accessing that information without permission is a major felony.

    So, when will we see the perps in prison? Not that Whitewater, this-is-just-a-camp-with-a-fence type prison, but a real-live fuck-you-in-the-ass type prison? (Probably never.)

    I've said it before, I'll say it again: Republicans cannot be trusted.
  • by reverendG (602408) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:23PM (#8055679) Homepage
    It seems like this should be a major scandal. The theft of confidential and private files is not small beans. There's hardly any information about it on the major news sites, however. Looking on Google News, I was able to find a few articles from small publications. I didn't see anything on www.cnn.com, www.msnbc.com, or news.bbc.co.uk.

    There's a reply up there about "this is business as usual", but I can't think of any possible excuse or mitigating of extenuating circumstances for this sort of crime. Saying that "well it's been done before" certainly doesn't make me feel any better about it.

    It's hard enough to take our government, and my role in it, seriously. Blowing off this kind of scandal certainly doesn't help.
  • Hold On Now! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geomon (78680) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:26PM (#8055707) Homepage Journal
    "There appears to have been no hacking, no stealing, and no violation of any Senate rule," Miranda said. "Stealing assumes a property right and there is no property right to a government document. . . . These documents are not covered under the Senate disclosure rule because they are not official business and, to the extent they were disclosed, they were disclosed inadvertently by negligent [Democratic] staff."

    Translation: "I didn't do it, but even if I did you couldn't prove I did anything wrong."

    Now we see the moral *squishiness* of the individuals involved. If these files had been national security documents (government documents) or salary action documents (also government documents), would Miranda still claim that they were open season for anyone who wanted to read them?

    Does anyone still believe that the USA Patriot Act will be used exclusively for criminal investigations?

  • CyberGate (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:30PM (#8055756) Homepage Journal
    Allow me to coin the inevitable term for this Republican crime: "CyberGate". This time, we should be even more freaked out than in 1972. The stakes are higher now, with the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions on the line, even worse backfire threats than Vietnam. And more importantly, Republicans cracking the Democratic Senate files and leaking them to the press demonstrates their predatory menace to the privacy and security of all Americans, all people in the world. In the shadow of Nixon's Watergate breakin to spy on the Democrats in his 1972 reelection campaign, and their bugging of the Democratic National Committee at the 1972 Democratic convention, this obvious pattern of criminal behavior at the top of the Republican Party is intolerable. Senators should be jailed, GOP party heads should be jailed under RICO as mafia. Otherwise, the Republican mafia juggernaut will barrel through every hall of justice, leaving nothing but destruction.
  • The devil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wytcld (179112) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:35PM (#8055818) Homepage
    "There appears to have been no hacking, no stealing, and no violation of any Senate rule," Miranda said. "Stealing assumes a property right and there is no property right to a government document. . . . These documents are not covered under the Senate disclosure rule because they are not official business and, to the extent they were disclosed, they were disclosed inadvertently by negligent [Democratic] staff."

    So they are "government documents" but not "official business." And it's not stealing because they were "disclosed" by someone making a mistake setting up security. You heard it straight from the Senate Majority Leader's staff: If a sysadmin mistake allows you to get into a system, then everything in the system is freely "disclosed" and there's no penalty for copying it.

    Also, documents can be "government" but not "official" - presumably the Republican Party is the only "official" government by now?

  • by johnos (109351) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:35PM (#8055819)
    This is one of those classic things that looks sneaky but within the usual beltway rules, until everyone finds out about it. Some smart guy figures out how to pull a fast one without thinking through the consequences. But this is a lot bigger than a simple dirty trick. It looks like numerous criminal laws were broken, although IANAL.

    I just remember Watergate. The story simmered in the background through the summer and fall of 1972. Few people paid much attention to it. In 1973, the thing suddenly went critical and took out a major chunk of the Republican leadership over the next year and a half. The major crimes in Watergate happened during that quiet period in late 1972. But the scandal ripped the lid off a festering pool of nastiness with all kinds of secondary consequences. Guys like Agnew got nailed for things completely unrelated, but without the scandal, they never would have been investigated. If this blows up, watch for a lot of other things (Haliburton?) to suddenly show up on the law-enforcement agendas.
    • by handy_vandal (606174) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @01:42PM (#8056717) Homepage Journal
      I just remember Watergate. .... Guys like Agnew got nailed for things completely unrelated, but without the scandal, they never would have been investigated. If this blows up, watch for a lot of other things (Haliburton?) to suddenly show up on the law-enforcement agendas.

      Didja know that Rumsfeld was a member of Nixon's cabinet?

      "Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Assistant to the President, and a member of the President's Cabinet (1969-1970); and, as Counsellor to the President, Director of the Economic Stabilization Program, and a member of the President's Cabinet (1971-1972)."
      - Source [whitehouse.gov]

      The Rumsfeld-Cheney-Nixon connection is also interesting:

      "When President Richard M. Nixon selected Rumsfeld as White House counselor in 1970, Cheney joined him as his deputy. In August 1974, Gerald Ford assumed the presidency and asked Rumsfeld to be his chief of staff. Rumsfeld immediately sought out Cheney."
      - Source [state.gov]

      Rumsfeld never got press as a major Watergate player. But this is interesting:

      "Rumsfeld was not entirely divorced from Nixon's political operations. There is no sign that he was involved in any of the illegalities of Watergate, but he was willing to offer Nixon other help of a not particularly exalted nature--some dirt on political enemies, some covert ties with a prominent pollster. The Nixon tapes reveal that Rumsfeld often worked with and was a special favorite of John Mitchell and Charles Colson, Nixon's roughest political operators, who viewed Rumsfeld as savvier than other White House aides."
      - Source [theatlantic.com]

      Mitchell was an obstructor of justice [wikipedia.org], and Colson was a hatchet man [cox.net]. Rummy was close with those guys? Must be sweet to have a resume like that -- fits right in with the Bush administration.

      -kgj
  • by abburdlen (131870) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:35PM (#8055831)
    (a) Whoever

    (1) having knowingly accessed a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access, and by means of such conduct having obtained information that has been determined by the United States Government pursuant to an Executive order or statute to require protection against unauthorized disclosure for reasons of national defense or foreign relations, or any restricted data, as defined in paragraph y. of section 11 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, with reason to believe that such information so obtained could be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation willfully communicates, delivers, transmits, or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it;

    (2) intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access, and thereby obtains--

    (A) information contained in a financial record of a financial institution, or of a card issuer as defined in section 1602(n) of title 15, or contained in a file of a consumer reporting agency on a consumer, as such terms are defined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.);

    (B) information from any department or agency of the United States; or

    (C) information from any protected computer if the conduct involved an interstate or foreign communication;

    (3) intentionally, without authorization to access any nonpublic computer of a department or agency of the United States, accesses such a computer of that department or agency that is exclusively for the use of the Government of the United States or, in the case of a computer not exclusively for such use, is used by or for the Government of the United States and such conduct affects that use by or for the Government of the United States;

    (4) knowingly and with intent to defraud, accesses a protected computer without authorization, or exceeds authorized access, and by means of such conduct furthers the intended fraud and obtains anything of value, unless the object of the fraud and the thing obtained consists only of the use of the computer and the value of such use is not more than $ 5,000 in any one-year period;

    (5)

    (A)

    (i) knowingly causes the transmission of a program, information, code, or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally causes damage without authorization, to a protected computer;

    (ii) intentionally accesses a protected computer without authorization, and as a result of such conduct, recklessly causes damage; or

    (iii) intentionally accesses a protected computer without authorization, and as a result of such conduct, causes damage; and

    (B) by conduct described in clause (i), (ii), or (iii) of subparagraph (A), caused (or, in the case of an attempted offense, would, if completed, have caused)--

    (i) loss to 1 or more persons during any 1-year period (and, for purposes of an investigation, prosecution, or other proceeding brought by the United States only, loss resulting from a related course of conduct affecting 1 or more other protected computers) aggregating at least $5,000 in value;

    (ii) the modification or impairment, or potential modification or impairment, of the medical examination, diagnosis, treatment, or care of 1 or more individuals;

    (iii) physical injury to any person;

    (iv) a threat to public health or safety; or

    (v) damage affecting a computer system used by or for a government entity in furtherance of the administration of justice, national defense, or national security;

    (6) knowingly and with intent to defraud traffics (as defined in section 1029) in any password or similar infor
  • by scumdamn (82357) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:36PM (#8055837)
    Maybe the "technician" set the password to "liberal" for the Democrats and "conservative" for the Republicans?
  • Hold the phone... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Remlik (654872) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:57PM (#8056134) Homepage
    First off read the article, the Demos go on to say "no harm no foul" since the documents aren't "owned" by anyone and are not official govt business. They even put the blame on their own admin.

    A few other things to clear up: This was not a "glitch," instead it was a simple permissions issue where certain security policies were not implemented properly or at all.

    Second: If a document is readable, people will read it. Right wrong or otherwise I don't really see what the big deal is. These people are supposed to running our fscking country not trading dirty secrets about how to screw the president out of a judicial nominee.

    Sure the people who weren't supposed to have access should have said somthing, but by the same token I can say the admin should have double checked to make sure they didn't have access.

    If the honeypot theory is correct, and Demos knew the documents weren't secure whey would they allow stupid shit like "hes a latino" go there in the first place. If anything they would place false documents there and make he republicans look bad when they come out with all these lies and rumors.

    In my opinion this doesn't even hurt the republicans credibility...so what if they were seeing stuff they weren't meant to see...the shit found more than makes up for any "ethical" issues involved. I say we pass a law that anything written, typed, or electronicly produced by any of our governmental representatives (that isn't top secret or national security) should be made public within 24hours of its creation.

    Its time our government was held responsible for all the BS it creates.
  • by EriDay (679359) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:59PM (#8056171)
    It's not like anybody got a BJ or anything.
  • by praedor (218403) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @01:14PM (#8056375) Homepage

    If any individual person (one of us, the slashdot reader, for instance) did something like this, we would be under investigation or arrest rather quickly. This is referred to in the media as "hacking". It doesn't matter one whit whether or not the victim was "wide open" or not. NOT have unbreakable defenses up on your computer does not make it A-OK for anyone to waltz on in and do whatever. It is considered a crime and many "hackers" have been prosecuted for this.


    The Republicans are getting away with it. It is OK for them to do this but any human being (they aren't human) does the same thing and they're looking at jailtime.


    Bullcrap! Say I. Equal enforcement of the law. Hacking into computers you do no own is considered a crime and it should be handled as such. It is obvious that Senator Hatch, hypocrit of all hypocrits, belongs in jail. His pukes did it (he probably thought it was cute and funny). How about I do it to his personal systems? Still funny? Still OK?

  • by prestidigital (341064) * on Thursday January 22, 2004 @01:15PM (#8056390) Journal
    Is that it appears to be a serious problem that should be corrected as a matter of formal policy and process - no matter who is at fault or who participated.

    In this day and age, responsible file protection on the part of our elected officials is mandatory. I realize that's a loaded remark, but no matter how you slice it, something has to change within our Congressional offices and infrastructure. Either someone hacked protected files or someone failed to protect files that should have been protected. I have general administrative access on our LAN and even I occasionally stumble across files I can't access. There are multiple levels of security for all things digital and either someone is misusing them or neglecting there use. Is their a third alternative?

    Soap Box:

    I too am disturbed by this revelation.

    But, if negligence is a factor (on either side), or some level of corruption, or misrepresentation of the people, then let us use our tricameral system to resolve it. Otherwise we are guilty of doing nothing but whipping up yet another impotent hysteria-of-the-moment using mass media. Take them to court. Elect new representatives. Our system of government is designed to be manipulated by the citizenry, intending to enact the will of a majority while protecting the rights of minorities. Problem is that the majority don't participate. The only ones doing the manipulating are an ambitious minority, some championing worthy causes, others power hungry and greedy, perhaps even rotten to the core, but all an ambitious minority just the same.

  • by Xeger (20906) <{slashdot} {at} {tracker.xeger.net}> on Thursday January 22, 2004 @01:17PM (#8056413) Homepage
    Judging from the relevant federal code (helpfully posted below), there does appear to be *some* chance that the Republican senators broke the law, by exceeding their authorized access to the files which, although were not "property" of the government, were stored on a government computer.

    On the slim chance that any of the Republican senators are prosecuted, how much would you like to bet that they get off with a reprimand and a slap on the wrist?

    Now, if the janitor in that office had been caught paging through the Dems' (or the Repubs') confidential memos, you can be sure he would have been prosecuted as a computer criminal. Judges are getting more heavy-handed as of late, and it's becoming increasingly more popular to invoke the Patriot Act in cases of computer crime. There's a very good chance that our poor janitor would have been tried, and convicted, as a terrorist.

    But, because the criminals in this case are rich, powerful, important white men with many friends in government, they'll likely get off scot free.

    I say: give these slandering, pandering, filibustering, dirty-bird legislators a taste of their own medicine! Let them be tried under the inappropriately harsh laws that snuck into the books under THEIR noses. It'll never happen of course, but it sure would be nice.
  • by Goldsmith (561202) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @02:22PM (#8057252)
    For those of you who didn't read to the bottom of the article, the guy who is supposed to have done this has said:

    "There appears to have been no hacking, no stealing, and no violation of any Senate rule. Stealing assumes a property right and there is no property right to a government document. . . . These documents are not covered under the Senate disclosure rule because they are not official business and, to the extent they were disclosed, they were disclosed inadvertently by negligent [Democratic] staff."

    These were not password protected files, they were on a network available to any members of the Judiciary committee. When the Republican's first learned of this (both sides were affected by the mistake) they fixed their files and told the Democrats to do the same. When they didn't, they took advantage of it.

    It was unethical, but the only worse thing in politics is to be incompetent. Think for a minute now, if these had been paper documents which had been left alone in a place where any Senator could get to them, there would be no story here except that the Dems screwed up.
  • by mariox19 (632969) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @02:29PM (#8057401)

    As I've read many times here on Slashdot every time someone comes to the defense of various enchroachments of civil liberties: "If the Democrats haven't done anything illegal, what have they to worry about?"

    Wake up, for Christ's sake! This is how power given to the government is abused. It will always be abused, which is why we have to protect our privacy at all costs.

  • by Buschman (69301) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @04:12PM (#8058929)

    Since it will take months to sort out whether a crime was committed, I've drafted a summary of expected consequences for people who do this sort of thing:

    • Elected representative: Forced to appear on Meet the Press and explain yourself. Typical raise the following year. Possible book deal.
    • Staff for elected representative: Fired. Possibly murdered.
    • Journalist: Pulizer/Peabody
    • Administrative staff (e.g., janitors, security guards): 3-5 years in prison
    • Twentysomething hacker/cracker (USA): Legal action. Some jail time, but steet cred
    • Twentysomething hacker/cracker (non-US): Legal action. Possible visit to Camp X-Ray.

    Please note that the RIAA may seek additional punishment if the material was copyrighted. So kids, think before you act

  • by toupsie (88295) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @06:40PM (#8060413) Homepage
    After reading these conspiracy theories of Republican treachery, I have to laugh. If you read the article close enough, it appears what happened is that the Democrats' tech created shares on a Windows server without applying appropriate user rights to them, i.e., an open share. The Democrats were using Government equipment to store political documents (at the cost of the taxpayers) where they discussed strategies to derail judicial nominees to satisfy their beloved special interest groups and tick off the Republicans' beloved special interest groups. The Republican techie caught on that all these political and non-governmental documents were open for all to see. The Democrats were told this and chose to stick their head in the sand and continue to leave their political playbook available for anyone to read.

    This isn't another Watergate for the Republicans, this is a StupidGate for the Democrats. Not only were the Democrats using taxpayer funds to pay for the production and storage of their political documents, they were giving Republicans free access to them. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. The DNC's private servers would have been a better place to put these non-governmental documents, not on a taxpayer funded server. Everyone of those documents belong to the people of the United States which members of the Republican party in the Judiciary are...

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